A teacher’s role diversity requires that you are alert to the factors that impact upon your effectiveness. In particular, four issues need to be addressed:
1. Managing the demands
The pace of life sometimes threatens to overwhelm teachers as they endeavor to cope with the job’s numerous requirements. The rapidity and speed of events increases the likelihood of flawed judgments or over-hasty responses, so you need to develop the skill of evaluating the significance of demands and how you should deal with them. You must resist becoming submerged by trivial matters that do not necessitate your immediate attention and include short ‘˜time-out’ periods for reflection about your schedule. If you are uncertain about priorities, seek advice from the class teacher or tutor.
2. Distractions and diversions
There are many distractions and diversions from the regular teaching pattern that teachers have to manage during the day, such as resolving pupil disputes, liaising with colleagues and checking equipment. It pays to think ahead and anticipate potential pressure moments, as they can create a swamping effect that can lead to a state of ‘˜action paralysis.’ Mentally think through the next session, make sure that you are clear about what you want to achieve, then direct your energies purposefully to that end.
3. Time management
No matter how many hours are worked, there never seems to be sufficient time to do everything as thoroughly as you wish. Ongoing issues (such as a child’s continuing uncooperativeness) or non-completion of tasks (such as marking) often builds up over a week and increases the sense of being overwhelmed. Each delay in task completion increases the likelihood that pressures will accumulate and destabilize the daily rhythm, thus adding to the pressure. A system based on, ‘˜do it now if I possibly can’ will alleviate some of these time pressures. For other tasks, divide them into four categories: important and urgent; important but not urgent; not important but urgent; and not important and not urgent.
Deal with important and urgent items first; keep important but not urgent tasks ‘˜ticking over’ while you address not important but urgent matters. If something is not important or urgent it can wait its turn!
4. Isolation from colleagues
Every teacher, however inexperienced, plays a role in maintaining staff harmony and promoting collegiality. Yet even in a school where collaboration and teamwork figure strongly, a large proportion of the teacher’s role involves physical separation from other adults. It pays to establish and maintain comradeship despite the intensity of business that each day brings. Joyful teaching is the right of every teacher and is greatly assisted by your supportive and sensitive attitude towards colleagues and good communication skills.