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How do you answer..." When do I have time to do it?"

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by philosophical, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. Excellent post.
    I think a job should be costed according to the time resources needed to do it. By that I don't mean the time it takes some genius to do it either (would you just mind running this 100m in 9.6 seconds please, after all Usain Bolt does it?) and if there is directed time available for a staff member to do it, it should be done. A clear distinction should be drawn between directed and voluntary tasks. One pre-ofsted I was 'expected' to produce a 'departmental handbook' which had to contain everything, and took forever. Needless to say it was never looked at by anybody, and binned about a year later.
    My killer line to managers who are vague about the time it needs to do something, or if the task is directed or not, or if it is an 'expectation', is to say 'I'll put it on my list of things to do'. That puts the manager a bit on the back foot, and they are then reduced to rambling on about 'professionalism', which roughly translated in that context means 'bend to my will'.
  2. Great question, I am interested in seeing your replies as face similar issues. Recently had some 1:1 coaching as part of Early Headship Provision, and 'distributed leadership' came up in the conversation. We are a very small school so only opportunities for leadership experience are within subject leader roles, the advice I was given was to review and clarify subject coordinator roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. Make clear what is expected and the standards required. Be clear about the expectations of staff who have crossed threshold.

    I think each request would have to be treated on its merit, for instance to expect someone to produce a handbook, would be unreasonable to expect them to do this without providing some additional time or support.
  3. By the way just remembered - when I was a deputy and the head asked me to do something which was outside of what I regarded as my role/responsibilities, the line I was always given was 'it will be good for your professional development'! Covers a multitude of sins I think!
  4. I say, "This is a really important task, how soon do you think you might be able to MAKE time to do it?" And I then ask if there is any way I can help them with it.
    I find myself saying "when I have time" to myself and to others but I know that time can be made to do things that you think are important enough.
  5. Keighleigh

    Keighleigh New commenter

    I just say, " I know, none of us have time but can you get it to me by ....."

    If I don't get it I'll approach and ask have they got it as I need it now... Especially if I need it for someone else!

    Called challenge I believe.
  6. Make time huh? If I were asked to make time for something I would agree to it provided the manager agreed, or helped to identify the task I need no longer do that takes the equivalent amount of time...that would be a way of 'making' time.
    Mind you if the manager were honest with me and asked 'Could you make EXTRA or VOLUNTARY time?', then a quite different discussion would ensue.
  7. Or called demand.
    When you say 'I know none of us have time', I would respond by saying 'and our little life is rounded by a sleep'.
  8. Keighleigh

    Keighleigh New commenter

    It's hard as everybody works hard and nobody has time, especially in challenging schools but if you always waited you'd never get anything done! If you need to give time or support you do so, if it's something they can do and you need it, it just has to get done!

    Challenge, demand, whatever...

    It just has to get done!
  9. Everything about your post suggests to me that you are a rather heroic person. It even reminds me of the character of Boxer the horse in Animal Farm.
    Actually I am not suggesting 'always waiting' to get anything done, simply to order the priorities so that the most important things get done first, and when the time runs out, stop.
    Surely you are not suggesting working unlimited hours are you?
  10. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    As an ordinary mortal teacher can i point out I would like to live!
    Heads do have habit of suddenly requiring this or that pronto..even if we have just spent 3 hours in a parents evening!.I want it in by tomight is fine if you have told them a week ahead so we can spend our weekends sorting it out,and fit it into the evenings of planning and work....oh did I mention by the way my wife wants to make an appintment to see me other than for breakfast and meal times.
    I would ask why do you need it..is it really important?...will it be used or be another bit of paper for ofsted or the LA to peruse? if so then make time in advance for the writer/provider to produce.Time is ok but dont say by tomorrow ,as some heads do!
    I have recently done a short session of long term supply and realised what a load of unecessary paperwork teachers are expected to do,including expecting teachers to use APP for every child, every week and for every lesson.then stressing 'targets' for OFsted readiness,SC, must, should ,could, and all the planing work(which we of course have to do)plus sudden demands for policies,schemes of work and liasioning with agencies which suddenly are there to help you..but for which your told on the day, or who suddenly apear i our class room.
    Heads have a difficult jobe to d i wouldnt deny.......but dont push the load onto staff.after all we often dont get paid anything for the extra work you require.....let alone getting little recognition of praise!
  11. Ha Ha; like it.
    As I said , I don't think I overburden staff and only ask for their help if its their subject or age range and I have never asked for everything for the next day. What I didn't mention , is that I teach 0.5 too so I also have all the teaching workload too; I'd just like some support and more teamwork for whole school issues.

  12. Keighleigh

    Keighleigh New commenter

    Of course not! For God's sake! Work /life balance?

    Just if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Notice is great but no leader is perfect so...there is short notice at times.

    I admire a teaching head. In that case, you would have stress from both angles! Just have to do our best that's all.
  13. In my experience, nearly every activity desired or requested in education is "needed" and worthwhile. The motivation of 99.99% of managers I have encountered is to try and do good. To use an extreme example, if every student returned home every evening with a handwritten report on their progress that day from every teacher they have encountered in order to "keep parents informed", that would probably be a good or positive thing. However, I doubt anyone would agree that teachers ought to do a daily report on each child they encounter.
    In short, everything can be argued to be desirable/necessary, but there are only 24 hours in a day and teachers are not paid to work every minute of those 24 hours. If you agree there should be work/life balance, then I'm afraid there's no avoiding engaging with the debate about limitations.
  14. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    I think I take unbrage with the suggestion that a policy is needed therefor the staff should come to your aid......I try to be helpful and having been SMT at times i realise life is not perfect.and the pressure of the imminant arrival of say ofsted suddenly creates an awareness of 'need' for this or that.
    Yet why should staff work longer and harder.........I listened in horror of an advisor explaining her working witha school in special measures...and the huge demands placed upon staff and leaders...... yes, they made, it but what a problem.
    I worked out the other day that if i marked 3 sets of 30 books a day for 5 mins each( as we have to mark ,note,give next comments and any other bits) ....and not counting recording on app sheets, that is 37 hours a week of marking.On top is other less used books, planning,reading endless memos, new directives and laisioning with other teachers and folks,not counting resourcing the materials,sorting out TA's ....mine was one day a week in a class of children which had over 50 % challanging behaviour( and then often 'redeployed' to cover something)..so often you had to try and fit in displays,trips,toilets etc.....for the first weeks i never got a coffee as i didnt have time to go to the staffroom.eating was sandwiches and cold water........and still then asked to do behaviour monitoring in books and sheets,send home behaviour reports each night, sort out the normal things like lost pack lunch bags,squabbles and letters home, homework,reading books...........and then the head says...i need your teacher book you were supposed to write up at the end of each lesson with lists of all the children who are achieving ,failingetc , complete wit actions you are taking to remedy it next time. yeah....you think im superman?Why the hel cant t such nfo be written on planning as it used to be and so save a layer of work......
    I myself found the stress to much and am able to to leave as i was long term supply...but it was putting up my blood pressure ......but it certainly brought sharp focus the huge pressure many staff faces and the onerous burdens heads can place by a seemingly innocent request..........Mind you if they paid use for responsibility posts it might also work better!.
  15. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Special measures are horrific and the workouts balance goes right out of the window. If you worked 24/7 you still wouldn't be able to get it all done. Which is why ( as I explained on the 70+ hours a week thread) most sensible heads will do anything they can to avoid going into them. I've seen people's careers and lives ruined by the whole process.

    I try to keep paperwork to the bare minimum requirements. I write the policies myself and share them with the staff to teach (with the exception on the policies which staff have a tlr for eg. Sen, literacy, curriculum). This frees staff up to teach.

    App I can't see the point of. If a teacher knows their class and agreements on levels are moderated, what's the point of filling in all those grids? I know of one local school which does it for every child in every subject. Pointless, mindless and demoralising for teachers.

    I try to let people know if I'm going to want something with plenty of warning. So key dates to hand in data are printed on the annual staff calendar. Sometimes though heads get demands at short notice, you might get a call from the la asking for information in the next couple of days which will bring in extra cash. Sometimes the demands come from central government.
    If things absolutely have to be done at short notice I try to give staff some release time. But with tight budgets and a full workload myself it isn't always possible.
  16. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    One day curly il be fascinated to meet you as you dont seem to be the norm of the head teachers i deal with on supply and they systems i see in place in many schools i have visited.
    A t the end of the day i would only ask that heads remember the load they imopse ,doesnt sound much, but can be a big graft for the individual.
    I have no problem with working at a task( im often the last one oth of the school) and i dont like teachers who dont pull their weight in areas such as planing and general care for their kids,,,,,but at te end of the day we are mere mortals,and as such reflect the diversity oh humanity we see in society around us.
  17. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    ps im blaming the bad spelling on the OH nattering in my ear lol!
  18. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    I hope I don't disappoint.

    I think several things help me to maintain a sense of whats reasonable and realistic:

    I still like to teach so I know how knackering the job is.
    Mr CG is a class teacher. I can see how demoralised he's become by excessive paperwork - 3 page lesson plans for every lesson ( yes, his DH insists) haven't improved his teaching, but they've bugggered up his work/ life balance

    It's not that long since I was full time class teaching, yet already I don't feel as skilled as I was. That gives me tremendous respect for the teaching staff

    I have a great team whom I like personally as well as professionally. They do an amazing job, in difficult circumstances. Why would I want to make it any tougher for then than it already is?

    I'm also a huge believer in treating people how you'd want to be treated yourself.
  19. Wow. Well a lesson plan is a guide for the teacher who teaches it, an observer of the lesson can decide if the lesson is any good by observing, not by reading the lesson plan!
    It is quite a good idea to write your personal lesson plan in Chinese, or shorthand, or Welsh, or Arabic, or Esparanto if you can, because it is a guide for you not the headteacher...the headteacher should only be concerned about some sort of thought and prep going into the lesson, as opposed to a teacher simply winging it.
  20. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Of course there are heads who insist that the lesson plan is available for all to follow in case you get run over by a bus.
    My Esperanto isn't that good Mutta Suomi on aika kumma.

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