To me, teaching really is the best job in the world. After entering my 19th year in the classroom, I still have the smile, the passion and the absolute love of teaching and working with children to be ‘lifelong learners’. I have worked in six very different schools - those that have been ‘deemed notice to improve’ and schools that are classed as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.
I’ve been fortunate to be a deputy head in three schools for a total of 12 years. What keeps me going? Laughing and knowing I’m making a difference! I also love becoming a better teacher than I was the day before.
Teaching can be stressful, that’s a fact that can’t be ignored no matter how much you love the profession. For teachers to keep their heads above water and retain the love they had when they started, it’s important to keep stress levels to a minimum. To help, here’s my top tips to manage a stress free day in the classroom.
Get in early
I always like to get in early. I look at my planning and prep all my notebooks so that I reflect on the learning from yesterday. Therefore it’s fresh and I know the learning is accurate and what the students need now. I always have Radio 1 on with loud pop music blaring, and only turn it off when the children enter. I then swap it for classical music!
Preparation is vital
All my lessons are planned and resources ready for 8:50, so an impromptu meeting or parent will not knock me off course. I have worked with so many teachers who are often found running around at playtime or lunchtime or even during the lessons. You just know the photocopier is going to break when you most need it. Take control of the situation and don’t let situations control you.
Mark during playtime and lunchtime
I always mark at playtime, the start of lunch and straight after school. I always leave the books to the side of the children who have struggled, so that my TA can pick them up first thing in the morning and plug the gaps straight away.
As much as I love the banter in the staff room, my time with my family is far more valuable, so I want to be sure I don’t take too much work home with me. I do get at least 20 minutes in the staff room, mainly to catch up on the gossip from Love Island or another incredibly high brow TV programme. It’s important to make some time to be normal for a bit and, if you need to, to let off some steam.
Make the end of the day count
After the children leave, the radio is back on and red pen is out. I often work through till 5:30 and when I leave school, that’s it. My time is now. I leave school work at school, come back and take my 19th month old son to the park before spending time with my wife (also a teacher!) in the evening.
Therefore when I wake in the morning, I’m fresh and excited to get the day started.
Common sense approach
I have been fortunate enough to work with a range of staff over the years. I often try to give these few words of wisdom to help and support them. I hope they help you too:
1. Don’t take yourself too seriously, no-one else does.
2. You will never ever get everything done before you go home. It’s impossible.
3. Don’t work late in the evening, you won’t feel rested and relaxed in the morning.
4. Remember you are at your best in front of the children. That’s when you make the most difference.
Matthew Parker has 19 years in teaching across Warwickshire and Coventry in a mix of small and large schools. He was a deputy headteacher since 2008 in three different schools, and is now taking a year back in the classroom as he has a young son.