Last month, I was asked to deliver a workshop on managing workload and avoiding burnout as an early career teacher to soon-to-be NQTs at the University of Greenwich. Sadly, due to school commitments, I was unable to attend. However, it is something that is a very real and well documented. So, I've compiled my top tips for early career teachers.
- Be Realistic - the NQT year is hard work. I distinctly remember falling asleep on my laptop while trying to prepare lesson resources for the following day.I always ensure marking is done at school (carrying 30+ books on the tube is really not practical!), this allows me to focus on planning/resourcing at home. Make sure you set yourself one or two jobs to complete each evening. Typically, I'll prepare worksheets or reply to emails. Finally, I ensure I'm finished by 10pm. This allows me some downtime.
- Know your school - Each school has it's priorities. Know what they are. For example, in my school, we are very keen on in-depth marking and presentation of the children's books. So, I make sure I am always on top of this.
- Walk before you run - I was forever being told to slow down by my NQT mentor. Of course, it's great to be enthusiastic, but slow down in the first year of teaching. There's so much to learn. Make sure you are secure in the basics before trying to move on. You wouldn't let the children in your class move on to something more complex if they didn't understand the foundation - so do as you preach!
- Get a hobby - Of course, work will battle for all of your free time. I find this time of year quite challenging (SATs and report writing). However, I'm just about to embark on a kayaking course. I've committed to every Tuesday during June. Yes, I'm anxious about the work for Wednesday. But, I need to be realistic and make sure I only focus on the important jobs for Wednesday morning.
- Book a holiday - Personally, my annual trip across Europe is the highlight of my year. You will work hard getting into the rhythm of teaching. You need to be rewarded. Having something to look forward to makes the time fly by!