How do we help mentees (and mentors) to manage the workload?

adrian FearnAdrian Fearn is the University link tutor in the Sheffield Institute of Education. He works in partnership with schools in the region to support trainees professional development whilst on school placements. This blogpost aims to develop a conversation around the the key ideas of professionalism and self-reliance.


How do we help mentees (and mentors) to manage the workload?

One important aspect of the Mentor Standards is standard 3: Professionalism. This standard deals with inducting the mentee into professional norms and values, helping them to understand the importance of the role and responsibilities of teachers in society. Managing time effectively is one of the five sub-standards and is a huge challenge for most mentees. Some already have inherent strategies to assist them in prioritising their workload, but for others the need is for the workload to be broken down into manageable sections.

There are some useful discussions to be had around ‘qualitative workload’ and ‘quantitative workload’. Sometimes it is the difficulty of the workload that mentees find hard to deal with, such as writing a Masters Level assignment or having a challenging face to face conversation with a parent; sometimes it may just be the volume of book marking that is using up considerable amounts of time. In  response to teacher workload the Government established three working groups that reported back in March 2016 :

The Planning and Resource group review (2016) specifically states that ‘ Burnt-out teachers are not best for pupils. ‘ (p.6).  When being inspected by OfSTED, any ITE institution will need to show how they have responded to these in order to support the next generation of teachers.  A recently published report comment on aspects of this:

‘Although it is early in the revised training for 2016/2017, trainees talk positively about how this is helping them to develop useful skills to manage a range of difficult situations, including stress, workload and colleague relationships.’ (Wildern Partnership SCITT OfSTED report, 2016).

It is therefore heartening to see that the reviews are being noted by the teaching profession and that this is being supported by the OfSTED inspection framework. It is also at this point worth reminding ourselves of the wider OfSTED mythbusters.  Sean Harford’s, OfSTED National Director of Edcation’s blog is a useful primary source of this.

professionalism6Managing Time

Covey’s (1991) Time Management Matrix is a useful tool to assist mentees with the prioritisation, enabling them to consider the importance and urgency of their
workload. It is also useful to structure the time in the day into clearly
defined episodes:

A. ‘Me’ time – protected for you
B. Scheduled time – timetabled lessons and meetings
C. Non-contact time – for marking and planning
D. Transitional time – ‘spare’ time that can be used as
you require

Most important here is the imperative  that the ‘Me’ time is never subsumed.

As a creative approach to linking this with recruitment, Nottinghams’ Education Improvement Boad (EIB) have developed a ‘Fair Workload Charter‘ that school’s can sign up to and get accredited  as a ‘Fair Worload Charter School’.  This leads me to ask how would your institution answer if an applicant inquired at the end of the interview process – ‘So, how will you support me with my workload?’

Further Reading

Aspfors, J., & Fransson, G. (2015). Research on mentor education for mentors
of newly qualified teachers: A qualitative meta-synthesis. Teaching and teacher
education, 48, 75-86.

Covey, S. R. (1991). The 7 habits of highly effective people. New York, NY.: Simon & Schuster.

Parker, G. (2015). Postmodernist perceptions of teacher professionalism: a critique. The Curriculum Journal, 26(3), 452-467.

Timoštšuk, I., & Ugaste, A. (2010). Student teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and teacher education, 26(8), 1563-1570. (download)

Younger, M., Brindley, S., Pedder, D., & Hagger, H. (2004). Starting points: student teachers’ reasons for becoming teachers and their preconceptions of what this will mean. European Journal of Teacher Education, 27(3), 245-264.

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