teaching professional people english
In the training business it is easy to find yourself dividing the workload into two categories – ‘good’ i.e. face time we are paid for, and ‘bad’ which would be everything else in life which isn’t a hobby. Paperwork would be in the ‘bad’ category. This is a huge mistake. Why? here are my main reasons…
1. It’s how you get paid If you work by the hour, and most of us do, no admin = no money. More importantly in the medium term, your employer won’t be able to bill his client. Mundane and ambiguous though it may appear, money really does matter. If you do not assist your employer in enabling cash flow then frankly, he’d be better off employing someone who is less competent than you but who will turn an honest penny.
2. It’s your product Your lesson report is the only artefact you will produce for most of your career. It is the only trace of you having been part of the company. Do you want your passing through to be documented only by some stubs in the boss’s cheque book? I don’t.
3. It’s about your career Competent paperwork will make you the star of your production. Want to shine? Polish your performance here first. On the other hand, failure to supply basic information about past lessons makes you a liability. Ultimately, your reports are the only evidence your employer has when negotiating the next contract with the customer. Fail to supply him with that basic ammunition and you’re sending him into battle unarmed.
4. It’s a Respect thing You are not the only teacher your student will have. I never tire of ‘inheriting’ students from colleagues to discover that not only lesson notes, but even basic information about which textbooks were used, are non-existent. This means that there is every chance of my turning up to class with inappropriate activities, or better still, stuff they have done before. Waste of whose time? The student’s. To not turn in paperwork is just plain arrogant. Ultimately, it says that you feel that you own the class. You don’t. The student paid for it.
5. It’s your sanity! Not doing paperwork is a strong sign that you’re living ‘hand to mouth’ so to speak when it comes to lesson planning. Let me put this another way. When do you decide what you’re doing in class? I know what I’m talking about here, because I have had patches where I was strung out, overworked, deciding on content after I had walked into the class. Students were happy with their courses. Progress was made. Lots of progress. However I was miserable knowing that I couldn’t remember what different people had done. I was expecting the whole business to come crashing down around my ears. Admin is the glue which holds your world together. Admin is the wheels on the car. Trust me, things go better with than without.
Still hate the admin thing? Lose sleep over it? Play catch-up constantly? You need to own it. You need to make it work for you. For starters, I would recommend that you identify those pieces of paperwork which MUST be completed for your organisation, then work to structure all your planning and record keeping around them. Never let record keeping get out of control – make it part of your routine. Most admin can be done before the students ever leave the class. Make it seamless – report on today’s class and plan next week’s in the same continuous movement.
Remember, paperwork is not the boss of what you do. You are. Paperwork is the means for you to communicate that mastery to a wider world.
Watch out for future posts on tools which can make admin easier and more enjoyable, saving you time & money ….