In a world where abundance is in abundance, it’s hard to concentrate on one thing. This is true of teaching: from the moment you put your foot on the school car park to the second you pull you car-keys out of your bag at the end of the day, you become a multi-tasking fiend. We relentlessly try to do everything-as best we can-then generally fall ill around week 5 of any given term with something fatigue induced.
I don’t think this will work for us long term.
I’ve spent the last seven weeks drawing many conversations with colleagues to a close with the statement: less is more. They probably imagine stapling things to my head when I spew out this generic little phrase but they mask it well. Big shout out to them.
As overused and cliched as it is, this ethos seems to be getting me through the working week: rather than feeling like I’m just keeping on top of things (I include my sanity when referring to things) I feel like I’m prioritising the important stuff, doing those bits well and realising that the world keeps turning even if I have to put some work on the back burner. Here are some of my less is more behaviours for half term 1:
- prioritise teaching and learning above all else: ask yourself: have I looked in their books this week (looked and assessed not marked necessarily) and have I planned a lesson that is reactive to this? For me, everything else feels OK if I know my teaching plate is spinning.
- reduce how many times you say yes to someone: especially if you’re an NQT. Don’t learn the hard way.
- reduce how many times you say sorry: 9 times out of 10 you shouldn’t be. Stop berating yourself.
- prioritise teaching and learning above all else part deux: make time to study that insert yourself before giving it to the students. Read that chapter and make your own notes, try that task if you’re doubting the methodology…in short: improve your own subject knowledge and everything else will feel better because your teaching will be better. Fact. (one word sentence, I must mean it.)
- look at the list: what doesn’t need to happen this week? Remove from list. Write some of these things in your diary for the following week .Pin this down elsewhere and relax about it.
- teach your students one new thing or how to do one thing better: try and stick to this as best you can. You can differentiate on the fly if need be but drill down into a key idea or an aspect of key content. Don’t muddy the water. Rome wasn’t build in a day (that’s a synonym cliche for less is more: reader, do you want to staple something to my head?)
- cap your late night, nights: teachers work a lot out of hours. This is just a part of the job: we know it and to a certain extent we accept it. However, if you’re burning the midnight oil every night or getting up pre -5am (I know some people do this) you’re going to be poorly and/or really annoying to the people around you because frankly you’ll be unbearable to live with. Cap your late nights/early mornings. Do 2 a week. You’re probably making a hash of whatever you’re trying to do otherwise.
Practise: doing less and getting more…progress, job satisfaction and sleep.