Revealed: Teachers' 8 biggest wastes of time

From CPD to finding a green pen, here are some of the most hated time wasters teachers complain about
22nd December 2020, 5:58pm
Claudia Civinini

Share

Revealed: Teachers' 8 biggest wastes of time

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/revealed-teachers-8-biggest-wastes-time
Teacher Workload: How To Make Marking Mock Exams Less Stressful

Teachers famously don't have time to waste. But what if some of the tasks they are made to do are, indeed, a waste of time?

History teacher Tom Rogers has asked Twitter: "What's the biggest waste of time that teachers do or are made to do?"

Workload: The things that waste teachers' time

More than 150 replies later (and counting), here are some of teachers' most complained-about time-wasters.


Read: Teachers' top 7 class Christmas presents on a budget

Workload: Rise in teachers working 50-hour weeks

2020: The Tes person of the year 


1. Admin, admin, admin!

Mentions of paperwork, paper trail and forms crop up all over the Twitter thread. Some respondents were more vocal than others.

ADMIN, ADMIN, and ADMIN!!

- Jason Boucher#FE#EdTech#Lifelong learning (@boucher_jason) December 21, 2020

 

This user points to the ubiquity of it: "The paper trail of test moderation, work scrutiny, learning walks, etc - purpose in the practice, just the time wasted on recording it on forms, etc."

 

The paper trail of test moderation, work scrutiny's, learning walks etc - purpose in the practice, just the time wasted on recording it on forms etc.

- Sharon Dixon (@SdixonSharon) December 21, 2020

 

2. Meetings

Meetings don't get a lot of love, especially if they are forced upon you at the end of a full-on day and with the prospect of a late night with a pile of books to mark.

It can be worse when the point of the meeting is not exactly clear, as this user suggests: "Meetings - often held just for the sake of it, when information could be disseminated more easily, often held to justify management positions."

Meetings - often held just for the sake of it, when information could be disseminated more easily, often held to justify management positions.

- chilangoingles (@chilangoingles4) December 21, 2020

It can also be annoying when the material could have been shared in other ways. But the pandemic has given a way around that, according to another respondent. 

The best thing about the pandemic is being able to miss meetings then watch the recordings at x2 speed

- Matthew Benyohai (@BenyohaiPhysics) December 21, 2020

Meetings are clearly not the most valued part of the job.

Meetings about meetings.

- Stuart Wilkinson (@stuwilkinson76) December 21, 2020

 

3. CPD because 'someone attended a course'

In a similar vein, generic professional development courses that don't have a clear rationale can get on teachers' nerves.

One of the respondents has no doubts: "Sit and listen professional development. I hate it. It wastes my time... nearly every. Time."

Sit and listen professional development. I hate it. It wastes my time... nearly every. Time.

- Mike Dunn (@michaeltdunn) December 21, 2020

And others feel the same way.

Storage of documents in multiple places.
Whole school marking policies that aren't a good fit for individual subjects.
Evidencing actions on tracking sheets.
Generic whole school CPD because someone has attended a course.

- Deb Hepplestone (@DebHepplestone) December 21, 2020

 

4. Marking 

Unsurprisingly, marking gets more than one mention. 

One of the respondents said: "Marking books. I have to force a lot of students to read them and reply... It also takes away a lot of teaching time. Seems pointless but the book looks great and passes inspections."

Marking books. I have to force a lot of students to read them and reply. A lot of the time they don't know what to write so I have to give them the answers. It also takes away a lot of teaching time. Seems pointless but the book looks great and passes inspections ?.

- MJ (@MattJosephMatt) December 21, 2020

Another pointed out that sometimes finding the right pen to mark books can be a waste of time in itself.

Finding a green pen with which to mark; marking in general; putting a lesson into some sort of template; displays.

- Charlotte C (@Charlotte82) December 21, 2020

 

5. Listening to the DfE pandemic guidance 

A pause from the evergreen time wasters. This is instead a product of our time. 

Listen to DfE pandemic guidance?

- Sam Marc ♻? (@notsohumble_sam) December 21, 2020

 

6. Lack of trust

Back to a frustrating evergreen: lack of trust in the profession.

One respondent said: "It's a toss-up between anything that takes away from any task that benefits my students (planning, whole-class feedback, et.) or anything we're asked to do because we're not trusted as professionals."

It's a toss up between anything that takes away from any task that benefits my students (planning, whole-class feedback etc.) or anything we're asked to do because we're not trusted as professionals.

- Lávate las manos ?? Ponte una máscarilla ? (@GeorgeJeggings) December 21, 2020

Another points out that there are tasks that teachers do that don't have anything to do with teaching and learning.

Anything (ANYTHING) that takes away from teaching & learning i.e tasks that only serve the purpose of preparing for Ofsted or form filling that only has the aim of showing you have already done something. Have faith in your teachers that they are doing what has been asked of them

- Mr D Horsington (@DHorsington) December 21, 2020

 

7. Data

Another recurring theme was pointing to data as the culprit of much time wasted. As a respondent summarised: "Data input, talking about data, worrying about data, gathering data, repeat."

Data input, talking about data, worrying about data, gathering data, repeat...

- NorfolkNEU (@NorfolkNEU) December 21, 2020

 

8. Ofsted 

The watchdog made an appearance several times in the responses to Mr Rogers' tweet. One of them referenced the panic that Ofsted visits can generate.

Listening to the headteacher's fear of the next OFSTED and what the rest of us will have to do about it.

- john of surrey (@johnofsurrey) December 21, 2020

 

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters