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managing a work life balance when you are an english teacher

Discussion in 'English' started by leadlearner, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. leadlearner

    leadlearner New commenter

    It sounds really hard for you, but I am sure you have thought of these:
    -how much S&L do you do in lessons? Remember not all work needs to be heads down writing, this helps re marking.
    -investigate interactive ways for 6th form to do exam prep- presentations, peer marked essays, not as a replacement for exam marking by you, but to mix it up a bit and take pressure off.
    -build in much more AFL into lessons by pupils
    -are you having to take on more responsibility?, it appears so, ask for a meeting with Lm to see if there is any one who can take on additional respn too, or if not if you can be removed from duties/dentention duty etc to balance the load
    -don't expect to give Ofsted perfect lessons everyday.
    -do you have a nice LA consultant? (know they are probably leaving next term) might be worth seeing if they can offer any support,revision lessons, take some meeting for you etc (if you have a good relationship with them and if they are very good) they might know teachers looking for a new job
    Feel for you, hope some of this helps.[​IMG]
  2. Short answer - 'no'. Longer answer - I try to get everything done so that I have Sunday free ... but as I'm trying to write a thesis for my MA, this doesn't help matters.
    I am becoming the parent that I complain about - but the weekend 'rule' is saving me. In the end, I can only do what I can do - and no more. The same is true of you!
    Keep your chin up - and know that we all empathise hugely...
  3. sweetie1

    sweetie1 New commenter

    I think it's impossible to get a home life balance and I'd say that marking is the main reason for this - plus a tendency for teachers to (dare I say it?) care too much.
    Have you an admin assistant who can make some of your phone calls? Obviously, some calls need teacher input, but calls about missed deadlines, homeworks, etc don't. Also, if you've got repeat offenders, why not get the parents' email address? Much quicker than a phone call and a way of avoiding too much debate.
    I try as hard as I can to have one free day at the weekends and at least two work free evenings during the week, but rarely hit this target. Similarly, I pencil in one day at work at the beginning of each holiday - this then frees up the rest of the time for a bit of down time.
    If you have any KS3 groups at all, I'd say silent reading in lessons is a good way to free up 10 minutes for non-levelled marking, emails etc. I'm also introducing more extended writing tasks for KS3 - they need to be prepared for hours of controlled assessment at KS4, and marking the outcomes to just one or two AFs makes it quick and managable.
    As a previous poster has said, peer and self assessment is always good; I've been giving my A Level students the exam board mark schemes which they say has been really useful. They are surprisingly accurate with their marks, and it makes my marking much quicker because I only need to develop the areas they have already identified.
    S & L is also a good one. Assessment is quick and on the spot, and the students can prepare independently to free up more marking time.
    Keep going - we're half way there nearly!

  4. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    Excellent plan. I'm currently marking Jan A2 and some centres clearly have no idea what the AOs are. Do you get them to peer mark?
    I'm lucky as I have very small, low ability classes and we concentrate on literacy at KS3. My marking load this year is very light. I'm making the most of it!
  5. The other thing to remember about English teaching and marking is that you are never on top of it. Quit worrying about it. Work out when you are going to mark stuff and try to stick to it. Everything else that has been mentioned should help you in this regard. oh, and I know lots of people disagree with this: if marking has fallen behind, don't do any close marking of stuff that is more than two weeks old. Students won't look at it other than to see the mark you gave it. In such cases, your time is wasted. Focus on the most recent stuff to give quality feedback.
  6. I think that's really good advice. I've always marked very closely (nerd that I am), but you're right that when it's older work there's less need for that kind of marking. Then again, it wouldn't be old work if we'd marked it sooner and sometimes that's just not possible!
    I tend to give my students a list of abbreviations that I use when marking, which consist of links to relevant AOs and examples of common errors and corrections (so AO1 for A level English would have something like "sent = sentence construction error. Avoid splice commas like xxxxx and yyyy: use zzzz or wwww instead" and AO3 might have something like "FX = what are the intended effects of this feature of language?" etc. etc. .)
    I put a copy on the VLE and give them a paper copy each at the start of the course to put in their folders/the bin, and then impose a tediously teacherly approach thereafter, so that if someone asks me what I've written I refer them to the sheet first and explain only after that. Usually with added tutting.
    Another thing, which doesn't exactly cut down on marking, but makes the marking more worthwhile - is to make them read their own work as soon as they get it back, so that they can read the comments along the way and re-engage with what they said, how (badly...sometimes) they said it and what you've suggested as alternative approaches.
    For exam essay feedback (past papers and the like) I keep detailed feedback sheets on each assignment and give them out to everyone, along with any extra notes and comments from that year's classes that might be new or interesting.
  7. Thank you for all your ideas. I already use many of them on a day to day basis but sometimes it feels as though school is my life and everything else comes second.

    I am very aware that marking is the bit I hate most as it feels like I am holding up a mirror to everything I haven't taught them or that they have misunderstood.

    I love planning engaging lessons and the feeling I get when I deliver an outstanding session - I don't love the look on my husband's face though, when I return home with yet another box of books.

    I suppose I need to develop a thicker skin. Roll on the holidays!

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