Too many plates spinning

21st March 2008 at 00:00
Middle managers are expected to spin lots of plates at the same time. The leadership team in most schools wants them in the corridors in their part of the building while simultaneously seeing out one class and setting up for the new one that is arriving. Setting up a class requires sorting out visual images for an interactive white board, writing up specific learning objectives for the pupils, or laying out reading materials and exercise books. It might also need strict adherence to a seating plan. And all this while acting as a traffic cop in the corridor at lesson change.

The only way to deal with these multiple expectations is to combine the role of traffic controller with your own beginning-of-the-lesson routines. So you could try standing at the door of your classroom, welcoming your new class and handing them a lesson starter as they come past you. This way you can control entry to your classroom while simultaneously keeping a beady eye on what other pupils are doing in the corridor nearby.

However, on a day when there are a lot of staff absent in your curriculum area, you are probably going to have to compromise on your own crisp lesson beginnings. The corridor will be very restless, and the priority will be to wear your middle-manager's hat and get out there.

Conversely, when you have to teach than class from hell, all your energy will be needed to get them in and stabilise them. Acting as a warden on the corridor is just not viable. Ask a colleague in your team with an easier class to do that lesson changeover.

Don't feel embarassed to ask your senior managers to come up and help you at a specific time in the week that you know is always difficult. You can't do all the corridor patrols yourself and they have more flexibility and less of a teaching routine than you do.

Paul Blum, Manager at a London secondary school.

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