Teacher workload has reached critical levels. Indeed, according to the latest State of Technology in Education report, most teachers believe workload is contributing to high levels of stress in schools.
To make matters worse, an excessive workload now represents the biggest threat to staff retention. To meet this challenge head-on, urgent action is needed. What can schools do to mitigate and manage the workload issue?
Benchmark staff workloads
First, assess workloads to see whether this is having a negative impact on staff wellbeing.
To establish the extent of the workload issue in your school, carry out an annual study to identify any factors hindering the morale, engagement, and effectiveness of your people. Once armed with this information, it will be much easier to create an action plan to address any issues.
Invest in the technology teachers need
Teachers must be given urgent access to productivity tools. For example:
- Real-time feedback and assessment technology to reduce the marking burden
- Apps, online forms and video conferencing (e.g. Skype) to minimize the time spent undertaking face-to-face meetings while keeping the lines of communication open
- Lesson and resource planning tools that allow teachers to customize and share lesson content, quickly and easily.
It’s also essential that SLTs provide the training and support necessary to ensure teachers are comfortable using such technologies. Schools must communicate that rather than being a ‘nice to have’, time-saving technologies and the necessary training to maximize them can alleviate time-management issues for anyone struggling to perform their core duties.
Reduce the assessment burden
While providing in-depth written feedback to students is still valuable, there is no doubt that triple or deep marking is hugely time-consuming. To reduce the burden of teacher workloads, SLTs must look at ways to modernize their grading practices.
- Distinguishing between work that needs deep marking and work that doesn’t
- Using peer and self-assessment
- Eliminating the need for teachers to mark books at home
- Adopting a ‘no-marking’ policy
Technology can also be used to reduce the burden of deep marking. For example, with the Promethean ActivPanel, learners can benefit from real-time assessment, with teachers providing live feedback before making a final assessment. Schools can deploy the same sort of amending process, without the massive amount of marking work more traditional deep-learning methods require.
Create a wellbeing strategy
In addition to finding practical ways to reduce teacher workloads, schools must also create a wellbeing strategy to address and combat the challenges of poor mental health. This could include things like:
1. Building a positive school culture
The frustration of an excessive workload can be reduced if it is acknowledged. SLT recognition of staff pressure is essential. It’s also important to show teachers other ways in which they are valued by welcoming teachers’ ideas, recognizing good work, and telling them how valued they are.
2. Adopting policies that promote a better work/life balance
Nobody working in education expects a typical nine to five. To retain teachers, creating a better work/life balance is essential.
Investing in modern technology that allows teachers to spend more time at home is an excellent place to start.
Fresh thinking is vital to address the challenges of your teachers’ workloads and increase staff retention. For more ideas on what educators want from their careers, and how SLTs can help, download the latest The State of Technology in Education 2022/23 report.