How Do You Manage Your Time And Workload In Your Training Year?  

Training to be a teacher is an intense experience and every trainee has pressures that make managing their workload more challenging. In my case that is a young son, born two weeks before Placement 1 began: the first day was a bit of a shock to the system! Initially, I was concerned about how I would be able to handle the workload given the challenges of working at home and the lack of sleep on offer. However, I have discovered that having hard constraints on my time has been an invaluable aspect of the training process. It has forced me to prioritise key tasks with a focus on developing as a teacher. 

It’s important to consider the central aim of the training year: to prepare for a career in teaching. Whilst that might sound blatantly obvious, it is easy to fall into patterns of behaviour during training that don’t correspond to teaching in a realistic way. As a trainee, whenever I spend several hours preparing for a single lesson, I’m very aware that by September that may be impossible. Of course, exceptions to that principle exist and certain activities warrant additional preparation, but it is counter-productive to become reliant on this approach now. I therefore try and resist the urge to over-prepare whilst on a reduced timetable. It’s better to do a lesson with a sensible amount of preparation than become dependent on a habit that realistically won’t extend beyond the training year. 

There are simple approaches that can help minimise your workload. The most important (in terms of timesaving) is developing an ability to efficiently find resources that suit your lesson objectives. Very rarely will an activity need creating from scratch; can an existing resource be modified? Does a suitable template already exist? Fortunately, in maths we have banks of differentiated questions available for virtually any given topic. Knowing how to adapt these is an essential skill to acquire and develop. Early on, I definitely discovered that there are diminishing returns to designing bespoke questions for a given topic and group. Your placement schools will also have access to various resources, which it would be useful to explore. Try and speak to colleagues about what approaches they use - some will also be happy to share their resources, which is an offer you should enthusiastically accept! By compiling and tailoring ideas where possible your time will be freed up for other essential tasks. 

Apart from providing a realistic preview of teaching, restricting the amount of time you commit to lesson preparation is important for what else it allows you to achieve. The main advantage of the training year is that you have access to plenty of feedback and advice. Without sufficient time available to reflect on this productively, it is a wasted opportunity. Many lessons would benefit from additional preparation, but recognising where to stop will be beneficial in the long term. 

By Jack Spencer 



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