Tag Archives: life

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 43. How to have a healthy school day – part 1

A day at work can be very stressful. Here are a few tips to help you cope with the stress. These are only my suggestions so I would welcome some from you. Please comment freely.

  1. Always have water with you. Take regular sips throughout the day. Keep well hydrated and avoid reaching for coffee as your drink of choice.
  2. Avoid negative people. Teachers can moan and groan of allowed and will often be keen to give you are ‘good listening to’. Try to sit away from these time sappers and find positive people.
  3. Lunch can be lethal. Don’t take too many carbs such as rice and white potatoes and help yourself to plenty of green vegetables. Carbs are bound to be on offer in abundance but be careful. You may not do enough exercise to carb carb load.
  4. Keep your hands out of the biscuit box – usually staff rooms or departments have a obligatory tin of sweet confectionary. My advice that these will put weight on by stealth. Stick to one or too and avoid eating in parallel.
  5. Try to go for a walk at lunchtime. Make a point of going for a short 15 minutes walk. A bit of exercise during the day will do you good.

biscuit tin

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 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.


No 20. What are the proposed changes to GCSE?

exam hall

The image above is from here.

When we are teaching day to day we sometimes don’t make time to read about future proposals. We may hear about changes on the news but sometimes are too busy to investigate further. I would say it is worth keeping in touch with the the Joint Council for Qualifications website and the regulatory body Ofqual. Dip into them every couple of months.

This week there have been two important documents released concerning  GCSE changes. One is proposed changes to individual subjects and the other is a review of controlled assessments per subject. You might find the papers a useful read especially if you are a head of department

Proposed GCSE Changes

Review of Controlled Assessments


No 12. Make sure that you mix with other curriculum areas

Are you in a school in which the Science department only talks to the Science department or the English department only talks to the English department? All too often in schools microcosms are cultivated which at times can be unhealthy. False reputations can be built up and negative labels are often applied. Teachers must work as part of the whole school to have a better chance of promotion and gain more experience in the world of education. I have worked in schools in which the science department rarely visits the main staffroom and if they do can feel like a fish out of water! Why should they go to the staffroom anyway as they have their own kettle, toaster and microwave in the science department – there really is no need to move. I think its really important to mix with other departments as working in a school looking through the lens of one curriculum area is too narrow. So think about your situation now for a minute. Do you mix or have you been enticed into the trappings of a comfortable pocket. Is it time to find a fresh place on the pillow? If you are a Scientist then why don’t you ask a teacher in the History department if you can observe them? Spread your wings tomorrow.



The image above is from here.