WWAM! - Time for a workload check-up?
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 8, 8 November 2019, page no. 15
Personal workload check-up
We say yes to many things – those things at work that extend beyond our immediate responsibilities and those things outside of work that we enjoy, including our relationships with others. It’s okay to say yes - it’s our way of exerting our control/influence over a situation. However, when we are feeling overworked we may wish to consider what we have said “yes” to and what things we do at work that contribute to our role as a teacher.
As a teacher you have agreed to the following elements of your role:
- Planning for classes: this may be done individually or collaboratively and is done in accordance with a range of factors. Forms of long-term planning and the storage of such plans should be agreed to at the school level (following consultation).
- Teaching your classes: each workplace will have a pedagogical framework that teachers should use - additionally, you are required to teach the curriculum for your subjects/year levels and in accordance with the needs of your students.
- Assessing student work: this should be done in accordance with school assessment timeframes, the curriculum, school data plan and the P-12 Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Framework (P-12 CARF).
- Reporting to parents: each school will have agreed processes on the form and frequency of written reports and the opportunities for face-to-face reporting to parents. Written and other forms of reporting to parents should align to the P-12 CARF.
- Development of self: this commitment is in two forms – teachers and school leaders are required to undertake mandatory training prescribed by the government and participate in Annual Performance Reviews. Additionally, to maintain registration, teachers need to complete continuing professional development hours.
While this framework of plan, teach, assess, report, develop appears simple, these are just the basics. However, teachers do so many other things.
During WWAM why not take the time to consider what other things you do in your role as a teacher and why? Ask yourself, what beyond planning, teaching, assessing and reporting, do I do in my school? Make a list and identify why you do these things. Most of the time we choose to do them because they enrich our experience as teachers, however, sometimes it is these additional issues that contribute to a sense of feeling overwhelmed. If this is the case, can you identify anything that you may be able to let go in 2020? If so, maybe it’s time to make a plan of action on how you will go about saying “no”.
Workplace workload health check
How is your school going with putting in place solutions to mitigate workload? Did you know that agreements exist covering:
- data in schools
- planning, preparation, differentiation and ICPs
- collegial engagement in classrooms
- annual performance reviews
- access to a minimum 30-minute uninterrupted lunch break each day and 225 minutes of uninterrupted meal breaks each week
- the purpose, frequency and duration of staff meetings
- bus and playground duty
- class sizes
- non-contact time
- mentoring for beginning teachers?
Are these agreements considered before a change impacting on workload is introduced in your workplace? If any of these matters are issues in your workplace, why not have a conversation with your QTU Reps so that they can raise them with your school leader and steps can be taken to find solutions?
Once aware of the issues, we need to employ strategies to address them. One of the features of assertiveness training is providing a frame for assertive decision making (ie. how to say yes or no and mean it!). Consider the following when considering whether (or not) you wish to commit to something.
- Do I have time to do this?
- If I prioritise this by making time for it, what else won’t get done?
- Do I have the capacity, knowledge and resources to do this?
- Can someone else do it or part of it so that the load is shared?
- Will I enjoy doing this or will it make me feel stressed?
- Is it a reasonable part of my job to do this?
Only you know the answer to these questions. Once you know them, how you communicate them is also an important part of being assertive.
You may wish to use these questions when conducting your personal workload check-up and making decisions about the things you plan to be involved in at work in 2020.