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The Night Owl

Secondary teacher Giles works for Protocol Education in Manchester. Giles encourages us to make a choice when it comes to choosing sleep and that your children will remember you, not the endless hours of planning. 

I have always been a night owl. During my uni days, I remember countless essays being written between the hours of 11pm and 3am, dancing until 5am and video editing until the sun comes up (not on the same night of course, I’m good but not that good).

All those things were fine when my earliest lecture was 10am or work didn’t start until the afternoon. But then teaching came along, and all of a sudden I was expected to not only be up, but presentable, professional and coherent from 8am until at least 3:30pm. Add onto that 2 more hours from waking up to arriving on site and all of a sudden those slothful students days seem like they happened to someone else.

Sleep and I have always had a wary distrust of each other.  I try to dodge him at every opportunity, and he catches up with me at the least opportune moments, much to the delight of my friends!  I have never been jealous of Edward Cullen, except for the fact that for that literary character, sleep is not needed. I sometimes wish it was optional, something you could do recreationally.

But nonetheless, things are what they are and the fact is: anyone with any hope of success in the classroom needs to get a good night’s sleep because sleep is one of the most important tools in your toolkit.

OK, so far, so obvious, but tell me if this sounds familiar; picture yourself hunched over a computer screen, or pile of books, or painstaking card sort, minutes counting down to midnight. Your vision is hazy, increasingly inhibited by your eye-lids getting in the way. Apparently your desire to produce a brilliant lesson has circumvented your basic common sense.  Now perhaps you’re one of those who’ve achieved that holy grail of a perfect work-life balance. But sooner or later, there will be a moment where you’ll have to choose between a thoroughly organised lesson and a good night’s sleep. When that moment comes, pick sleep every time. Here’s why;

A friend once told me that 80% of your output is determined in 20% of your time.  That is to say, the majority of your lesson was probably decided within the first 5 minutes. You then probably spent at least half an hour creating resources, powerpoints, hand outs etc on something that may only take up 5-10 minutes of actual lesson time, if in fact it makes any difference to the lesson at all.

Now good quality resources are useful but in 10 years time, your students will not remember how good your hand outs were. How stimulatingly your powerpoint slides transitioned from one to another won’t even be a distant memory. What they will remember is you. How patient you were with them, how you greeted them with a smile, how you made them laugh with your sense of humour, all things that will be more useful to their education than any card-sort!

All things that will be aided by getting some decent shut eye. So work hard when it’s time to and rest properly when the day ends and you’ll be fine, now go get ‘em tiger!   

We have been focussing on sleep this week. Read more of our sleep blogs here.

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Tags: Giles, Secondary, Manchester, sleep, night, planning, lessons,

Category: Australian Teachers

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