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

As a mum of two young children, a volunteer at two youth groups and attending a regular dance class, taking on teacher training seems like an impossible challenge and I’m often asked how I manage it all. 

I think that my key to success to managing it all is being organised, prioritising everything but also being flexible as I’ve been discovering, no day in the same in teaching. Establishing a routine that works for you and what your non-negotiable priorities in life are helps build the organisation skills you will need. 

My family and work are my non-negotiable priorities, in the mornings and between the time I get home and them going to bed my time is dedicated to my family.  This does not mean that I start lesson planning late every evening though, I do the majority of my planning directly at the end of the school day especially on days when they have clubs or during my planning time during the day before. I make sure I have at least a workable lesson and resources before I leave at the end of the day even if there are some bits that I wish to reformat or tweak later in the evening.  Getting a little bit ahead with the planning is a definite bonus however getting too far ahead for me can create its own problems and I have to spend longer recapping it before I teach. 

At the start of the course you have much more time for planning and observing with fewer lessons to plan.  Using this time to collate a list of resources that your school use and the locations they are in really helps with the speed of planning lessons as you progress through the year.  Also becoming familiar with the school’s scheme of work lets you know what is coming up in the next lessons throughout the year.  If I observe a lesson or come across a resource I continuously add it to my list, noting what you like about it and the sort of resources it is good for. 

CPD (Continuous Professional Development) is incredibly useful to attend, even if the session does not seem to relate to something you are doing now, there are so many tips that you can pick up from established teachers running these sessions, they can also give you an insight to the bigger picture and I have often found that those sessions did apply to me (I just didn’t know it yet). I would advise to take every opportunity you can, as an hour of CPD now could save you multiple hours of work later. If you really can’t attend one, it’s always worth asking if you could be sent the slides for you to look at another time. 

Listening to the experience that others have.  When you first start, literally everyone has more experience of being in the school than you, it goes without saying that you should be listening and taking advice from teachers you are paired with, but do not disregard other people, there is a lot of knowledge available and some of the most helpful tips could come from the least expected sources. 

Last but by no means least, look after yourself. It is incredibly difficult to plan lessons, complete portfolios or enhance subject knowledge if you are exhausted. Make sure you put aside time to look after yourself, do something you enjoy, eat properly, stay hydrated, sleep. Have a cut off for when you are working till, set alarms to remind you to stop if you need to. Be open and honest with your mentor, they should be able to adjust workload slightly to work with you. My timetable was going to increase rapidly after Christmas, so I asked if I could have a gradual increase between October and December going over my recommended time, but it made my transition to the increased timetable much smoother and I was not stressed by it. It works both ways though, if you are ever struggling, make sure you communicate, and they will work with you to come up with a workable timetable.

Be organised, establish routine and priorities, be flexible and look after yourself. 

Enjoy the experience, you can do this! 

By Victoria McKnight 



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