What do we need? Time!

I’m sitting here at the dining room table, nominally so, since the table contains the overflow of marking brought home at the end of term one. A pile of Year 9 English assessment tasks is glaring at me as I think, “How the heck did I get to this point?”

Rewind to about four weeks ago when the first task of the year was in its seminal stages of production.

Two teachers of English meet to discuss the nature of the task. The ‘when’ and ‘why’ are covered, thanks to the assessment handbook which, to Year 9 students, is a mystery of metalanguage, dates and rules. Said teachers have to come up with at least four questions – 9 English is on two lines; alternate questions are required for make-up tasks, for students absent on the day. Check.

Said teachers pore over the ‘Diversity’ documents to identify students with learning needs – 15 students. Individual adjustments to the task are required, for example, wording, scaffolding, checklists, sentence stems, writing structures and so on. Check.

Draft questions, send out to teachers for comments, modify questions, talk through potential student outcomes. Time length?Line length? Structure?

It goes on and on, but we get there!

Admin. For want of using an expletive here, I’ll use my husband’s word, “Fudge!”

Typing. Printing. Writing paper and booklets. Class lists. Assessment Task sign-off document. Provisions paperwork. Marking criteria. Program. Scope and sequence.

All ours – we teachers are performing this work, all the while continuing to teach our respective six classes of English. By Week 11, the task is administered and done.

This leaves the “holidays” for the grunt work – marking. I am thankful I have half a pile (about 100 papers) and not the full cohort.

For the purpose of not boring you any further, I will not go into the marking process, during and post, but there is further liaising between us as markers, checks and balances, keeping us frustratingly busy.

Why did I write this? This is about time. This is one task, for one year group, out of six. I am a highly capable teacher with more than 30 years of experience. Clearly, I am not a new to the profession. If I am drowning at times, what hope do younger teachers have? How do we regain time to do great things in the classroom without being burdened by administration and processes?

I totally understand why people are leaving the profession. It’s not about money, it’s about being time poor.

And by the way, the first script wrote about the wrong book.