This week we found out that schools run on a 20th century technology called email. Email pulls together announcements about a broken handle on a stockroom door, with details of a change in photocopying procedures, sensitive messages from parents, a colleague asking whether you’ve got some equipment in your classroom, and a bundle of promotional messages from CPD providers and companies selling widgets. Good luck navigating your way through that in the spare moments between teaching!

Teacher Tapp runs on Slack, so that even if Laura is partying on another continent we can still work together to get the weekly blog out to you. Primary teacher Solomon Kingsnorth thinks Slack could make teachers lives a bit better. (So do we.)

1. A teacher’s day finishes at 3:30, right?

Teacher Tappers are holding meetings or running clubs long after our app buzzes at 3:30pm each day. Over half of you had a departmental or year group meeting last week and most schools seem to be buzzing with students or parents taking part in open evenings, school clubs and performances every week. Just 6% of you had no scheduled or unscheduled meetings at all.

Primary colleagues do seem to have things a little easier than secondary teachers. They see parents after school much more frequently (it is pretty hard to avoid them in a primary school!) but otherwise have fewer scheduled meetings.

We also had a little look at whether things were tougher for teachers with responsibilities and the senior leadership team. Whilst heads had quite different sorts of after-school activities, they didn’t seem to have more of them than their colleagues.

2. A half day’s work before the day begins

On Wednesday we asked you to recall how long you had spent preparing for the lesson. A massive 39% of you reported you had spent over half an hour doing so. If that was a typical lesson, and if you are a regular classroom teacher, it implies you are spending over 2 hours a day just preparing your classes.

We rather assumed those of you who had been teaching a while would be throwing together a plan on a post-it note most days, but no! Even our most experienced teachers are spending a considerable amount of time preparing for a lesson.

The phase and subject differences are, perhaps, as you would expect. Maths teachers do the best job of preparing quickly, as do our ‘other’ (mostly PE) teachers. It is our humanities and arts teachers who are struggling. Perhaps the answer is more and better textbooks for them?

Textbooks? Well we asked you how often you were using textbooks in your classes, and here is the strange thing… Lots of you who are using textbooks every lesson are also spending a long time preparing your classes. I wonder what you are doing? Hmm…

3. Marking policies that don’t make sense

65% of you work in a school that has a marking policy telling you how often you should mark. Not sure how these policies can be aligned with Government recommendations from the 2016 marking report

We thought that schools subject to Ofsted or RSC ‘monitoring’ visits would be more likely to have prescriptive marking policies, and they do. Though the differences between Ofsted judgements perhaps isn’t as great as we thought it might be.

These prescriptive policies are far more common in secondary schools, which seems bizarre because I cannot begin to imagine how specifying marking rules for secondary teachers is even possible.

4. Still, all this work is worth it (if you are a head)
Most teachers aren’t in it for the money, but a decent salary does help to make you feel a little bit valued. There is one group of teachers who are happy with their pay – our headteachers! 48% of headteachers are very satisfied with their salary and 41% are moderately satisfied. By contrast, 9% of classroom teachers are very dissatisfied and 34% are moderately dissatisfied with their pay.

For anyone looking to resolve the pay crisis without spending too much money, it would seem that raising salaries on the main pay scale needs to take a priority. It is our least experienced teachers who are inevitably on the lowest wages who are currently the most unhappy with their salary.

5. Working on your days off
A confession. I’m afraid you won’t have a day off each week between now and the summer. We wanted to ask you what you would do if we gifted you this day to find out why so many of you wanted to reduce your hours (and take the pay hit). Most of you said you would WORK on your day off! I guess this would help ease your weekend, but we can’t have a profession where you have to work part-time to make the job do-able. Laura thinks modern life is impossible where everyone works and nobody looks after the household chores. Many of you agree and would spend your day off cleaning and running errands.

Laura also thought that our measure of how conscientious you are (have you noticed we’ve asked you six questions about this now?) would indicate how likely you were to work on your day off. Wrong! The most conscientious amongst you are no more likely to engage in work preparation.

6. Coffee edges ahead in the hot drink wars

It is neck-and-neck in the staffroom between the coffee and tea drinkers at morning break. Coffee is just ahead with 39% of you requesting it. A staggering 13% of you would decline the offer of a colleague to make you a drink. Remember, this is a question about morning break. We’ll ask about afternoon break another time to see whether teachers make the traditional switch into afternoon tea drinkers.

7. Finally, as ever, we learned that you really love our daily tips, so here are the links for last week:

The best moves a teacher can make to ensure pupils know you are looking at them.

Harry Fletcher-Wood delves into the way behaviour can be nudged

Learning myths and the facts that should sway you

The Organized Classroom – ‘lesson plan’ crate

Experiencing upset or trauma and how it affects adult health

Kris Boulton teaching maths in streamed, set and mixed ability classes (4 posts)


Right folks – over and out for another week…

In the meantime, please keep sharing what we are doing. Remember, we need more of you before we can do the really exciting and detailed analysis!

Here’s the powerpoint slide (with script), a PDF, and a black-and-white one-pager to help out with that. 

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