More than 40,000 teachers took part in the government’s Workload Challenge, which closed at the end of November – giving an insight into their busy working lives.
The initial release of findings show teachers felt their day-to-day lives could be improved by allocating more time to planning, preparation and assessment, reducing the time spent marking and cutting down time in meetings. The Department for Education is due to respond to the findings very soon.
Technology is becoming widespread in schools, and an increasingly important part of teaching and learning – but can it play a role in improving teachers’ day-to-day lives? While we await the DfE’s response, here are 10 simple tips for teachers on how to use technology to reduce their workload.
If all of your digital tools are focused on teaching material or digital content, then change it up! There are so many great applications out there to assist with classroom management and the flow of interaction between teachers and students. For instance, interactive seating plans, such as MintClass or ClassCharts, not only help you memorise which student sits where, but also allow you to speedily organise the class into project groups according to ability.
A digital shoebox
Get students using pen and paper or paint, whatever is the right medium for the lesson objective, and then capture it by using a photo-tagging application. It will then be in their “digital shoebox”, evidencing their learning journey at school, without you having to spend precious time photocopying and filing.
If you are always chasing late homework, improve the communication between school and home. By assigning homework using your learning platform of choice, a notification system could allow parents and students to see exactly what is due and when, thus allowing parents to become more active participants in their child’s learning. ParentMail is also a popular tool among secondary schools to improve school and home communication.
Creating lesson plans rich with resources can be time-consuming. Automate what you can with the huge range of worksheet generators and credible content sources out there, allowing you to free up more of your time. Britannica and FacingHistory are great examples.
Build templates for the materials you use regularly. Whether it be a lesson structure for key stage 3 or an assembly plan for reception, by saving your most used templates you can simply populate them with content and have your much-needed resource created within minutes. There are some free template builders out there including at class-templates.com.
If marking of frequent assessments is getting you down, use an app that “self-marks” quizzes. Many of the tools available, Yacapaca for example, provide you with real-time data and reports, meaning that there is no time wasted between a formative assessment and that all-important intervention to support every student’s progress.
Organise digital resources
Lots of teachers’ time each week is spent searching and compiling resources and student work. Most learning platforms or content management systems help you organise all of your digital resources by tagging them to meaningful key words and learning objectives. Eliminate drilling down file structures by being able to search for what you want, when you want it.
A clear out
Chuck out the trash! We can all have a tendency to hoard documents. Curriculum and teaching methods change, so invest a bit of time clearing out your older teaching resources and admin documents. It will save you time in the long run and it is good practice to have a recycle session every so often. It will refresh your thinking and allow you to see the wood for the trees. Free tools like Evernote can also help you get organised and stay organised.
Use your students!
Motivating your class to complete certain tasks can save time by ensuring lessons are pacey so that your planned curriculum gets covered. Camouflage learning apps like Sumdog or reward systems such as Vivo, help students to stay on task for longer. They even encourage them to get excited about completing classwork because it is fun and competitive.
Get other time-saving ideas by connecting and collaborating with peers globally. Twitter EdChats are held weekly, and regularly host thousands of teachers from all over the world sharing ideas on a range of topics – everything from assessment and planning to pedagogy and big data. Just type in #edchat to get involved.
Kate Lewis is commercial director at Frog.