How to reduce your teachers’ workload in the next academic year

How to reduce your teachers’ workload in the next academic year

It’s no secret that teaching is a demanding profession with a high workload. According to a TES wellbeing report, one third of teachers at international schools said their workload was unmanageable in the past 12 months. Strategies to lower teacher workload Fortunately, there are a...

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It’s no secret that teaching is a demanding profession with a high workload. According to a TES wellbeing report, one third of teachers at international schools said their workload was unmanageable in the past 12 months.

Strategies to lower teacher workload

Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways for school leaders to reduce teacher workload, stress levels and burnout. Let’s take a look:

1. Establish more efficient grading and feedback practices

Teachers spend an average of five hours per week grading work and giving feedback to students. However, they could significantly reduce that time by using Learning Management Software (LMS) and AI tools to support marking and feedback.

Many schools have decided to reduce or even eliminate written feedback. Instead, they’re adopting digital tools that can accurately review, grade, and provide detailed notes about students’ work. Of course, these tools can’t replace the value of teachers’ perspective and communication – but they can speed up marking for general tests and give teachers more time to deliver that valuable in-person feedback.

2. Simplify lesson planning

Teachers require another five hours per week to create lesson plans. However, lesson plan templates can save teachers a lot of time. These templates can include a structure for each class, stating the times, types of activities, and resources required for each lesson according to the subject and desired goal. With this resource, teachers don’t have to start each lesson plan from scratch, and can more efficiently design lesson plans at scale.

Our Pearson Edexcel International GCSE Teaching Hubs have a range of online lesson plans that teachers can use. And of course, AI can also support teachers with lesson planning.

Learn more about how teachers can use ChatGPT as a lesson plan generator.

3. Create clear communication boundaries

Communications outside of working hours may seem insignificant, but studies have shown they increase workers’ stress levels. A report from Edchoice shows that the majority of teachers spend three to four hours on school-related activities outside of the school day. Teachers often feel pressure to reply to colleagues, students, and parents during their personal hours, and so extend their working hours and limit their ability to fully switch off from work.

As a school leader, take steps to consciously restrict communication outside of working hours. Set curfews for sending emails and ask parents and students to only message teachers within certain timeframes.

Read more about setting clear boundaries for teachers.

4. Rethink the tasks assigned to teachers

Teachers’ time is precious. They are typically spinning many plates at once, and school leaders and heads of department should be sensitive to what they assign teachers and when. Before giving teachers a task, considering the following questions:

  • Does this task need to be done? It’s important to recognise when a task is necessary (e.g. lesson planning) or unnecessary but useful (e.g. keeping a reflective teaching journal). If a task isn’t a priority, don’t assign it. Tasks like professional development shouldn’t fall by the wayside though. This is a priority for teachers, but should be integrated into their school working hours where possible.
  • Is this an admin task? Data management tasks such as student reporting and uploading information to school systems can quickly consume teachers’ time. Ideally, assign these data management tasks to a designated person who knows best how to use data tools and can oversee administrative tasks. Not only will this free up teacher time, it will also ensure that your data is more organised and subsequently more insightful.
  • Does the task require teachers’ professional skills/judgement? Lesson planning and classroom management require teachers to use their training and experience as educators. Supervising students as they eat lunch does not. So, aim to allocate tasks to teachers that require their expertise – and find someone else to do the other tasks.

5. Be explicit about tasks teachers should not be doing

One of the most impactful ways to lower teacher workload is to have a strict list of activities that teachers are not responsible for. Having this boundary will mean that teachers can more easily organise their time, and educators can delegate work more efficiently.

You may want to draw a line at teachers completing clerical work or taking responsibility for leading extracurricular activities.

Some administrators suggest limiting teacher work to tasks directly related to the classroom. In this scenario, administrative work should be out of a teacher’s purview.

6. Expand clerical staff

Increasing clerical and administrative staff can make a big difference to teacher workload. Naturally, this will require money and training, but it is an investment that can support the school as a whole.

While your school may not have the budget to take on new staff, there are other potential solutions. Try job-sharing among administrative staff who are trained in multiple tools, systems, and duties, meaning that there are more people available to cover tasks as they arise.

Another possibility is to look for volunteers among the parents of the school, or advertise for interns in the local community, who could take on overflow tasks away from teachers.

7. Adopt AI solutions

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now a key part of education – it prepares students and teachers for the modern world and streamlines processes across schools. For instance, AI-driven tools can create lesson plans, grade papers, provide inspiration for classroom activities, and offer platforms for virtual learning.

School leaders and teachers should be embracing AI, bringing it into classrooms to optimise teachers’ time management, all while boosting the quality of learning.

Learn more about using AI tools in the classroom.

8. Promote teacher collaboration

A healthy work environment is one where teachers collaborate with one another regularly.

Set up workshops or weekly meetings where teachers work in pairs or groups to discuss their successes and challenges with workload. These conversations give teachers an opportunity to ask for advice about how to improve their timetables and share tips about working more efficiently without compromising quality. Connecting with colleagues can also provide crucial emotional support that can reduce teacher burnout and feelings of isolation.

Communication is key to supporting teachers with workload

As a school leader, you’re probably spinning even more plates than the classroom teachers! But it’s important to make time for regular check-ins and conversations with your team. Find out if there’s anything they’re struggling to make time for and keep an eye on each person’s workload. Above all, make sure your colleagues know that there will be no negative consequences to saying, “I don’t have time to take that on,” or “I need some support.”

Implementing some (or all!) of these steps should reduce your teachers’ workload, giving them more time to innovate, learn new things or get creative in the classroom. When teachers are feeling less frazzled and more supported, you’ll notice that your school will become a happier and more creative workplace for everyone!

Further reading

Read more about how mentors can help your teaching staff, and learn new ways to build a strong community at your school.

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