Work smarter, not harder
By Ben Jackson
Teachers are some of the most hardworking human beings on the planet. That is a fact.
I was young, free and single when I first started teaching. I had no one other than myself to look after, yet I still struggled to find the hours in the day to do what I needed to do. I took my hat off to some of the amazing teachers I worked with, who all had young children and were running busy households, yet still managed to find the time to mark 90 books a night and plan engaging and inspiring lessons for their class!
I have to admit, towards the end of my time in the classroom, many of the teachers I worked with were struggling to keep all those plates spinning and morale was at an all-time low. A lot of teachers out there simply cannot work any harder than they are already doing. School leaders are understandably looking for ways to continually improve the teaching and learning in their school. Of course this has to happen and it is a big responsibility that school leaders hold. However, the answer cannot be to ask teachers to start doing something else on top of everything that they are already doing. Something will eventually give.
In my current role, I strive to make teachers’ lives easier whilst improving the standards in their classroom. I experienced first-hand what it felt like to be asked to manage a completely unrealistic workload. It made me very ill and I had no other option at the time but to leave a profession that I once loved. I am driven by the notion that if I can stop that happening to at least one other teacher then I am making a difference. Not just making a difference to the life of that teacher, but making a difference to the lives of the many children who will be taught by that teacher. A tired, stressed, overworked teacher is not a good teacher.
A lot of the training that we carry out encourages teachers to work smarter, not harder in the classroom. We will often end our training sessions asking the vital question, “What are you going to do less of?”
When a school buys into a new initiative or starts using a new piece of software, it will inevitably take a bit of time to embed this change and workload may even increase whilst staff get used to the change. However, for this change to be successful, teachers must reflect on their daily practice and carefully consider what this new initiative is able to replace. This isn’t always as obvious as it might seem.
When schools initially look into using Balance, they are often looking for an assessment tool to replace their traditional tracking system. This would seem a like for like swap. However, the more teachers use Balance, the more they see its benefits as a tool to engage children in their feedback and a planning tool which clearly highlights gaps in the curriculum. To reap these benefits though, teachers must look at the processes they currently have in place for giving feedback and for carrying out their planning and decide what is having an impact on children’s learning and what is not. They must be brave and stop doing those things that are creating work, but are not having an impact on learning.
School leaders who have embedded Balance into their teachers’ weekly practise and who have reviewed their policies so that they are not simply using Balance on top of everything else, are finding that Balance has not only refined and improved their planning and assessment process, but it has also started to significantly reduce teacher workload.
To find out more about how Balance can help teachers to work smarter in the classroom and focus on those things that really matter, please complete this form or drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.