As half term draws to an end and I start to contemplate the mountain of work I have inevitably left until the last minute, I am reminded of the many times I hear people comment on my organisational skills. Apparently, I am incredibly calm, organised and well prepared.
To some (quite large) extent, this is true. I always have my plans completed on time or even ahead of schedule, my masters of resources are printed off at home the night before (ink permitting, of course!) ready for me to copy them on the way past the photocopier as I come in first thing in the morning. Emails are replied to promptly and jobs that need completing for others are done almost straight away. Hence this illusion of organisation. But there is an underlying secret that not many are aware of: I’m not actually as organised as people think. I’ve got marking to do from the last science topic, I took down my maths working wall as we changed topics but I’ve put nothing back up in its place. I’ve got loads of little jobs that need doing and have done for ages, but I just don’t have the time. It’s all about 2 things: priorities and acting.
In this crazy profession of ours, how we present ourselves is vital: in front of the children, in front of the parents, in front of staff. The jobs that need doing for others are always the ones I do first: I can’t hold up other staff because I haven’t been organised enough to reply to a resource request or to type up parents evening notes for them. The report comments for the children in my teaching partner’s class will be completed well ahead of time, even though I may well be proof reading mine at the 11th hour. Organisation equals competence for a lot of people, and if they see a competent colleague, they will have confidence in them. I read around the subject of assessment, so that if colleagues ask me questions, I can answer them. Again, all part of the competence act. Some of them will be reading this, so I need to reassure them that I’m not a complete shambolic mess underneath it all: far from it. But I think what helps me to have a (mostly) calm exterior even though I have lots to do is the attitude I have towards my to-do list. It will get done. It will get done in time. But it won’t necessarily get done straight away. I was going to use the famous swan analogy to explain it all- gliding along on the surface and paddling furiously underneath, but I’m not entirely sure that works for me. I’m more relaxed than that. I work hard, damn hard, but I’m not paddling away furiously to get it done. Clearly I’m a laid back swan, elegantly gliding on the surface (I can hear the guffaws of my friends and colleagues now. ‘Elegant’ isn’t a word often associated with me!) and kicking hard but not busting a gut under the water. We can’t do it all immediately. It doesn’t work. That’s when teachers end up working themselves into the ground. Write a list, prioritise it and then get on with it. Don’t spend hours agonising over things, don’t procrastinate and just get the jobs done.
Swan image courtesy of https://reddirtpics.wordpress.com/page/23/