Set sensible routines and practices for things like marking and lesson planning
First of all, many of them didn't bother to read the detailed comments I'd put in, and instead went straight to their question. Most of them had completed their question in about two or three minutes, meaning I'd spent three hours planning three minutes worth of work, which doesn't seem the most time-efficient way to mark. Furthermore, I'd stupidly set each pupil a different question, so I then had to take the books in again and re-mark each individual problem, which took another two hours.
Needless to say, I didn't do that again.
One of the biggest transitions from training year to NQT year is the autonomy you have over how you work. Very few (secondary) schools ask for lesson plans for each lesson, and even Ofsted have stopped requiring them now. There's certainly no need to create a full plan with timings for every tiny section of the lesson, although I did find that a quick scribble of "ten minutes on this, fifteen on that" in my planner helped for the first term or so. I now "write" all my lesson plans for the next day in my head, usually on the way from school, resourcing them when I get home in front of my computer.
Start thinking about how you will keep or catalogue good lesson resources. Once you've planned and resourced a series of lessons on fractions, make sure you keep it somewhere safe, so you can quickly access it when you have to teach it to a different group later on in the year. I save work by topic on my home computer and by class on my work computer, then archive all this at the end of each year.
Something else I realised very early on is that it's impossible to teach "Outstanding" lessons all of the time. Let's put aside the fact that the judgement of "Outstanding" is incredibly subjective - when I began teaching, I was convinced that this meant seven different activities with loads of coloured bits of card and mini-plenaries every five minutes - I discovered that all this really does is confuse the pupils and make far too much additional work for the teacher. One of the best pieces of advice I was given during my training year was "the best way to be an outstanding teacher is to teach consistently good lessons".
While a bit of variety is important, bread and butter lessons are also fine (see Bodil Isaksen's blog on the Staffrm for a far more eloquent discussion than mine). There's nothing wrong with pupils working independently and quietly on some problems for fifteen minutes - many of them actually enjoy or appreciate this more than doing Tarsia puzzles or treasure hunts. As a rule of thumb, I aim to plan an interesting or exciting activity once every couple of weeks with a class, with the rest of the lessons following a fairly standard format. This way, I stay enthusiastic about planning really great lessons and don't burn myself out by trying to do it for every single lesson I teach.
Marking's a different kettle of fish, and I'm still not sure I've cracked it - ironically, I think that can wait for another blog post...
(18/51) My Twitter history
(17/51) My #summer10
(16/51) It's only a model - Part 2
What is the #summerblogchallenge?
Something that works for me is setting pupils a small bank of Challenge Tasks (CT’s) that I make up as I mark. So your first pupil gets CT1, you might set the same CT to pupils 2, 3 and 4. When you mark pupil 5 you realise they need a different CT which then becomes CT2 in the bank - I usually end up with a max. of 5 CT’s. All the pupils get in their books is a reference e.g. Challenge Task 2 -
I then put the actual CT’s on the board; extension work is to help others or pick another Challenge Task. This works pretty well but still has a fairly low teacher time to learning impact index in my option compared to say time spent planning.