Tag Archives: business

No 47. Is IGCSE better than GCSE? Discuss!

This is not really a post of any substance but a question. There seems to be a movement to IGCSE in many independent schools in the UK in a range of subjects. Equally some schools that moved to IGCSE have moved back to GCSE. Is one better than the other? I would love to find out!

No 46. Hold a meeting from a distance

meeting remote

With faster broadband speeds and easy access to the internet there is really no need to hold meetings in school. At the end of a long day or crammed into a lunchtime is often not the best time to hold an important meeting. A novel approach may be to schedule it for an evening when everyone is at home when they are more relaxed and fresher. The website www.anymeeting.com makes this all possible. Its free to join although you do have to pay to get rid of adverts and allows you to hold meetings remotely. You can upload presentations on which you could have the agenda and you can communicate to each other using your computers microphone or by simply writing messages. It may also take away some of the confrontation away that can exist when staff are tired and irritable. You can also record the meeting too -dangerous!.  Give it a go and see what happens. Please comment freely. If you already doing this using a different site or piece of software then please let me know.


The photo in this post is from here.

No 44. Track your time for a week

It is quite important to evaluate your time management in a busy job such as teaching. There are various ways of doing this but using this table is a pretty good start. Make a conscious effort to fill it out for a week and at the end of the week see where you could have saved time. Let me know how you get on. If you have any other tips for time management in teaching then please comment.

time managment


The image above is from here.

No 34. Dealing with a difficult person with the word ‘feel’

difficult conversations

Unfortunately from time to time in the world of teaching you can encounter another member of staff that seems to be making your life difficult. This may include

  • talking to other people about you behind your back.
  • deliberately putting your ideas down during a meeting.
  • criticising you by e-mail and copying other people, often senior people into it. The cc and bcc are rarely used carefully.
  • greying matters by telling half truths.
  • talking to the students in their classes about you. A false and wholly inappropriate way of them gaining respect.

If you think this is happening to you then the worse thing you can do is to do nothing. You must confront the person directly and take the following steps

  1. Ask the person that you would like to talk to them privately – don’t do this by e-mail, keep it all face to face.
  2. Tell the person how they are making you ‘feel’. The key word here is ‘feel’. They won’t be able to argue with a feeling but can argue with facts which they can say are not true.
  3. Say that you would like it to stop otherwise you will be taking it further. Stress that you wanted to deal with the matter informally first.
  4. Keep things short and to the point. Keep it firm but friendly.
  5. Keep a record of it yourself in writing with a date but don’t send it to anyone.

I think it is really important to deal with the matter yourself. Don’t tell other people that you are going to do it or discuss extensively with other colleagues. You may end up being as bad as them! Make sure you are professional at all times.

difficult conversation 2


The images in this post are from here and here.

No 32. 12 ways to build team spirit within your department

If you are a Head of Department in a school then you will want to do your best to maintain a good team spirit. Here are twelve ways that you can do this  – if you have any more then please comment.

  1. Communicate well with honesty – you could have a weekly briefing sheet with all the important events and deadlines on it.
  2. Be visible in the department, for instance make sure you around at break times and lunchtimes.
  3. Set the standard – make sure that you are seen to be working hard and not going against the school ethos. Lead by example and set high standards
  4. Make an effort to point out the good in what people are doing. If someone in your team has spent time putting up a display then go and look at and make them feel appreciated. Celebrate what you see.
  5. Make sure that meetings have a clear agenda with AOB at the end so that everybody has an opportunity to speak and raise their point. Ensure that you start and finish meetings on time and keep them moving.
  6. Arrange to have informal one to one meetings with your team members away from performance review or appraisal to see how things are going.
  7. Make sure that you listen well to people – listen more than you speak. Don’t talk over people to get your point across – be interested in what they are saying and make them feel important.
  8. Have a folder of relevant INSET and encourage people to develop professionally. Make sure that you budget appropriately for this.
  9. Allow for staff to express their own opinions and contribute to decisions.
  10. Be fair and consistent in your decision making. Make sure it is in line with the core values of the department and whole school.
  11. Have  a good sense of humour but don’t get too close and familiar – be friendly but professional.
  12. After a period of intense work such as report writing buy a box of chocolates or cakes for the department. Leave them somewhere communal for everyone to enjoy. Make your team feel appreciated.

team spirit

The image above is from here.


No 24. Take steps to avoid e-mail addiction

I am not addicted

It’s not uncommon in the modern school to receive up to 100 e-mails a day. These vary from tasks to do, reminders and advertising from publishers selling you the latest and best resource ever. The teacher and laptop combination has meant you are never far away from your e-mails and if you throw e-mail addiction into the mix then if you are not careful your productivity levels will drop and your stress levels will rise.

Here are a few tips to avoid e-mail addiction:

  1. Set yourself times when you will check your e-mails. The times for checking can be flexible and found by trial and error. For instance you might find checking twice a day too few or too many.
  2. Sometimes it us useful to check your e-mail first thing in the morning and categorise them into urgent, non urgent and deletable. Did you know that 50% of e-mails are deleted before they are opened?
  3. Don’t be tempted to have your school e-mail installed on your phone. Do you really want a message from your line manager at 11.00 in the evening before you go to bed?
  4. Think before you send an e-mail whether you need to send it or not. Could you not walk and talk to the person instead?
  5. Is there such a thing as e-mail competition? For instance, does sending an e-mail late at night impress anyone? Does the recipient really think – gosh, they’re working late!? Don’t point score by sending your e-mail later than anyone else.
  6. Limit yourself to a set number of e-mails a day. Sometimes I set myself a 5 a day sending limit. If I have to send more then I will go and find the person or phone them.

Remember there is no such thing as an e-mail emergency!

If you have a way of avoiding e-mail addiction then please comment freely.

e-mail addiction

The images in this post are from here and here.

No 21. There is no ‘Indispensable Man’


The image above is from here

Next time you agree to give up your weekend to do go on a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition or drive a minibus on a Friday night in heavy traffic to take students to a debating competition think about this poem called the ‘Indispensable man’. It’s also a good poem to think about when you are in a meeting and you are about to thrust your point forward at the expense of everyone else. I remember once in my previous school a teacher that had been there for 30 years said to me “I don’t know how they will find replacement for me, they will need to find two people to replace me”. Well they did replace him and the school moved on. Usually you’re only as good as the next person. Enjoy your life and don’t let your work rule you.

Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego ‘s in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You’re the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.  

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,
Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you’ll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.  

The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There’s no indispensable man.