Do I really need to take work home?

Answer) Almost never The so called ‘guilt bag’ that teachers take home with them is amongst the worst teacher practice.

It is obviously your choice to do as you wish after work. There are many diligent teachers who would be ashamed to leave school without some homework of their own. I know a common complaint from teachers is that there isn’t enough time to get their work done. I am sympathetic.

However, funnelling your teaching energy in the right places will change your teaching life.

Here are some teacher homework dos and don’ts.

Good teacher homework

  • Recording notes about student progress.
  • Reading for professional learning.
  • Limited grading of student work
Bad teacher homework

  • Report writing.
  • Preparing the next day’s lessons
  • Colouring and decorating classroom posters.

Lesson preparation

In general, lesson preparation should be done at school. Generalist classroom teachers benefit from working collaboratively when planning. Not only does this improve consistency in curriculum content and delivery but is greatly reduces the amount of work, as tasks can be shared. Recording curriculum in a common template is a no brainer, but I am still surprised when I go into schools and see different templates being used even within the same year level.

Your curriculum should be something that you do as a group. It should be open for review each year but not needing a complete rewrite. When a graduate sits at their desk for the first time you should be able to hand them what the agreed curriculum is, then walk away. The document should be self-explanatory.

Report writing

Report writing is a hugely stressful time for most teachers. I know there are many different formats and requirements for report writing, but regardless, here is my advice.

Before the end of each week make sure you have made a note about each of your students. Each note can fall into two categories; either academic or behavioural. Get into the practice of writing these notes weekly. Use full sentences, refer to relevant standards and be consistent.

If you do this properly, report writing will become report packaging. Reporting on a semester’s work will become a simple editing job, rather than a huge writing job.

Student grading

By taking student work home to grade you may be missing a vital teaching moment. It may be better to reduce the number of assessment tasks and prioritise time in your classroom to give timely feedback to your students. Think about it like this, the more contextual your feedback is, the more effective it is. Whilst you are not always going to be able to give students face-to-face feedback, it is something that you should make some time to do.