How teachers can guard and make the most of ‘gained time’

When Year 11 classes depart, a teacher’s timetable can suddenly seem a lot more bearable. But using the time wisely takes planning, says Stephanie Keenan in the TES

This is the time of year when we secondary school teachers with exam classes suddenly breathe easier, drop our shoulders and lose that 1,000-yard stare.  

Not only do we see the summer holidays approaching on the horizon like a cruise ship ready to whisk us to exotic locations (though more realistically, on a teacher’s salary, it’s probably a P&O ferry to a Brittany campsite), we also see some beautiful spaces appearing in our timetable, created by the departure of our exam classes. Yes! Fist pumps are permitted. It’s the arrival of “gained time”.

Don’t overestimate what you can achieve: Yes, you may have seven hours per week “free” now, but don’t forget this is the summer term: it’s event after event after event. The chances are you’ll lose days of the timetable to sports day, special assemblies, celebration this and enrichment that. It’s a great time of year for fun, but organised school fun takes time to plan and run. 

Prioritise, plan and share the jobs: Gained time is an opportunity to make some changes, but you need to plan out what you want to achieve early. With colleagues, agree a realistic number of priorities that need to be addressed, then share out the jobs. Are there some schemes of work that are weaker than others? Do you need to look at continuity between key stage 3 and key stage 4, or does key stage 5 need your attention? 

Leave time for informality and serendipity: Never feel guilty about using some gained time to get out of your classroom. Hang out in the staffroom, wander about clasping your tea and chat, chat, chat to your brilliant colleagues.  You will learn so much more from these informal conversations than a million pinged emails, bulletins or meetings. It will make you feel so good to connect with people face-to-face. You’ll think, “why don’t I do this more often?”. Hold on to that feeling for September.

Read more How teachers can guard and make the most of ‘gained time’

How will you spend your ‘gained time’? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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