I've had a lot of conversations lately about finding time. Finding time to do work things, finding time to relax, finding time to enjoy life. At work, it's mostly about finding the time to do that something extra you've been asked to do, but usually it's about finding the time to do what I 'should' already be doing.
I had written a long paragraph about my working week. I'll replace it with, simply, "I work a 60 hour week". During my week I teach six classes. I teach 20 lessons (four classes three times and two classes four times), so I get five 'non-contact' periods every week. Three of these are on a Wednesday and one each on a Thursday and Friday. I'm not overly enamored by Mondays and Tuesdays, but I battle through it. I accepted a TLR post last year and as a part of that I use two of my 'non-contact' periods per week dealing with my responsibilities (and much more time at home...) leaving me with three 'non-contact' periods to do my planning, preparation and assessment. For six classes, for 20 lessons, for (about) 150 children.
But, where does the time go? An hour-long 'non-contact' period becomes 50 minutes easily, by clearing up after the previous class and setting up for the next. I have to gather the books that need marking, my new stickers that (apparently) help me to mark, my stamp and my highlighters before flicking through and wondering why three of the kids were using properties of 'angels' in Year 7 and my year 9s couldn't write down the definitions for mode, median, mean and range. I make some comments alongside my stickers, but it's not what I actually WANT to say.
I like being a good teacher. It's why I blog, it's why the first thing I do when I wake up is get on Twitter and Feedly and the last thing I do before bed is check my e-mails. But, we're 10 weeks in to a school year (almost), and I'm yet to properly look over my Year 8, 9 and 10 exercise books, and this makes me feel inadequate. It's not that I haven't set aside the time to do it - it's that the time gets stolen - by cover lessons, by child protection issues and by those 'small' jobs that will 'only take a minute... would you mind?'.
I read a lot in the news about poor teaching and low standards and a massive need to alter and improve what we do in schools. That the GCSE isn't strong enough and we need a third extra content and an extra lesson, so kids have five maths lessons per week. But where will that time come from?
Last year I barely looked at my Year 9 books. I spoke to every kid, every lesson and I offered my time to anybody who wanted it. Two children out of 30 achieved below their target (one of whom missed 25% of lessons) and 7 or so were working at grade B. I delivered engaging lessons and built relationships. The lack of a comment saying that they needed to improve their presentation or that they could consider solving quadratics as a next step didn't bother them - the fact that I stood at my door and spoke to every child as they came in, went round and asked if they were OK and had a laugh and joke with them mattered.
I've bought a book called '100 ideas for Oustanding Lessons' that I've had in my bag for 5 weeks and haven't opened yet. Wouldn't my time be better spent reading this and improving my lessons rather than writing 'Great work X. I feel bad for ruining it with my green pen! Sorry! :)' in X's book?
Doesn't this need to addressed on a large scale? Use your time to do something constructive, like calling parents to invite kids to after school revision rather than writing 'This does not constitute an hour's work. We'll have to catch up...' which will just take more time any way...