Frustrated and Overloaded High School Teacher With Too Many Hats

Here's a selection of classic time related issues that teachers face. If you’re interested, scroll down for my response.

1. The biggest challenges to teachers in terms of time management are grading/evaluations, academic commitments beyond the classroom including serving on committees, planning bodies etc.,and planning for courses.

2. Common causes of distraction for me include conversations with colleagues that don't reduce problems or workload but do provide temporary relief or stress reduction.

3. I know teachers can do their jobs without experiencing excessive stress but I am still waiting to find out how! I've spoken and worked with others who are not completely stressed out. Generally their time management skills are superb and they have been teaching enough years to have a lot of time savers in the classroom. They also ask for help when needed and don't reinvent the wheel.

4. If I were mentoring a newly qualified teacher I would say to
Maximize your planning time
Organize don't socialize
Make a routine for setting up and leaving at both ends of the day

5. I have two planning periods in the day so in the first period I generally have meetings, make phone calls/check emails, make copies or visit the office for administrative issues. During the second planning time I map out lessons, do internet research and complete grading.

* * *

These are typical challenges that teachers have to face - how can you get everything done?

You can't. Or, more accurately, you shouldn't. Most of the time, it is counter productive to strive for perfection in your work. That mindset, whilst sounding laudable, is a recipe for stress and burnout.

Obviously there are times when you have to achieve 100%. But the trick is to know when those times are - and they are far less frequent than we think.

Instead, decide how well you want to get something done.

For example, how much research will you do online? How thoroughly do you need to grade each paper? Which emails deserve your attention and which can be deleted? How long will you allow that conversation to last?

The principle to live and work by is to aim for what Swedish people refer to as "lagom" meaning "just the right amount".

Sure, it takes practice. But it begins with awareness. Don't feel you have to be 100% perfect. Apply the 80-20 rule and do the things that matter most to the degree that they need to be done.

This principle can be applied to anything you do.

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