Tales from new teachers

A cunning plan

The problem

The workload of my training year - the cycle of marking, planning, essay-writing and so on - was pushing me to the limit.

The first time I was given the target of being "more organised" in a lesson observation, my jaw dropped. I had often referred to myself as a perfectionist and a control freak but now I felt like a fraud. But the strain of teaching is surely enough to test anyone's organisational skills.

The options

Of course, the most obvious option was to have a mini-meltdown, sitting in my study surrounded by academic papers, exercise books and meticulously planned resource packs. However, I quickly realised the detrimental effect that admitting defeat so early would have - I should at least wait until half-term to pile on the self-pity.

Rather than feeling sorry for myself, I decided to restore organisation to its rightful place at the top of my CV. I didn't just need a school timetable, I needed a working timetable and, for that matter, a social timetable.

So I created said super-timetable, with the days of the week (and the weekend) across the top and horizontal rows relating to several areas: planning, meeting my mentor, marking, homework-setting and course-related tasks such as observations, reflective journals and lesson reflections.

I colour-coded, cross-referenced and evenly spread out all the commitments for each day before sending the document to the reprographics department to be laminated.

The outcome was a pristine, wipe-clean workload timetable that helped me to stay on track throughout the week. It also meant that I could fill in the themes of the lessons I had to plan, tick off completed tasks and write in additional responsibilities week by week.

The result

Suddenly, I found myself able to sleep at night without having a pen and notebook gripped in my hands.

I knew exactly what I needed to do each day and I knew the deadline for each of these tasks. Not only was I finally getting on top of things but I was also far less stressed. Consequently, so was my mentor.

It's incredible that such a simple aid could completely transform my attitude towards my workload - it's something that I will use throughout my career.

The writer is training to be a teacher in East Anglia

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