A day in the life of a... Teacher


What does being a teacher really mean in the current climate? In this podcast we break down the statistics surrounding teacher workloads. Listen along as we join Bukky Yusuf, a teacher and Senior Leader at Edith Kay School, for a day in her life. We explore what teacher workload really looks like, from effectively managing admin tasks to navigating that all important work life balance. As well as what tools and strategies Bukky uses to reduce her workload. Including how she supports her fellow teachers in her role as a Senior Leader.

To hear more from Bukky on the issue of tackling teacher workloads, check out her roundtable discussion with other leading educators by visiting text.help/workloadchallenge.

Transcript

Patrick McGrath:
Welcome to today's episode of Texthelp Talks podcast. As always, we've got a host of experts covering a range of topics from education right the way through into the workplace. Please make sure you subscribe to our podcast through your preferred podcast player or indeed, your streaming service and never miss an episode. And of course, if you want to join in on the conversation, you're more than welcome to. Simply add the hashtag #TexthelpTalks to your Twitter or your preferred social media platform and join in the conversation.

Patrick:
I'm Patrick McGrath and I'm Head of Education Strategy here at Texthelp. It'll be my privilege to be your host for the next 30, 40 minutes here today. And I do have a very, very special guest with me today who I know is going to enlighten us and is going to share with us her experience of what we're going to talk about today, which of course, is teacher workload.

Patrick:
For those of you who don't know Bukky, and I'm quite sure there's not very many of our listeners haven't come across Bukky in one way or another throughout the world of education, but Bukky is a senior leader and teaches secondary science at A level at Edith Kay School. She's undertaken a number of leadership roles within both mainstream and special ed schools. And she's also an ambassador for leadership matters. And I'm really looking forward to talking about that later with her.

Patrick:
As well as a network leader and coach for WomenEd and BAMEed, she's got a variety of EdTech experience and I think Bukky participated as a judge for the EdTech 50 schools and also serves as an education board member for Innovate My School. More recently than that, Bukky's been appointed as an interim co-chair of the EdTech Leadership Group to support the government's EdTech strategy.

Patrick:
And I know, Bukky, we talked earlier on today about how we all love when we get on our podcasts and our presentations, these big, long intros. But I think that was definitely warranted for you. So a huge welcome to you today and thanks for joining us.

Bukky:
Thank you, Paddy. Thanks for welcoming here today.

Patrick:
No, you're very welcome. And today of course, Bukky, we're going to be talking about teacher workload. We're going to be looking beyond what of course, are the statistics. I mean, we all know the last year we've been through COVID-19, remote learning. There's been so much that has happened in this last year.

Bukky:
Yes.

Patrick:
But the teacher workload challenges have really increased. And so, if we kind of look beyond the statistics that we talked about, what I'm really interested in talking to you about today is kind of what your day looks like. Break it down. And you have so much going on. We've saw that, or we've heard from your introduction there. You've a lot going on. And many teachers of course, do. And you've got your senior leadership role as well in your current school. So interested to explore and find out what does your day really look like? And then, what are the sort of strategies you've either been able to put in place, or tried to put in place that maybe haven't worked out or have been particularly successful on the flip side?

Patrick:
So what I'm interested in is what your day looks like. So what's a typical day for you? What does a day look like in Edith Kay for you in terms of starting the day? Where do you start when you go into school?

Bukky:
So I generally, again, I'm lucky in the context that we're in before 9:00 generally. Have a quick conversation with staff, you know, hi's and greetings and things like that, see how everyone is. Touch base with my head teacher to see how things are. Since we've actually come back now post lockdown, we have a staff briefing. So again, because we've got a transition of going back from lockdown or various stages of lockdown with students being off site to everyone now being back on site, so having a daily catch up at the start of the day to be aware of any issues and things like that, any timetable changes as well.

Bukky:
And I teach all day. So we have five periods. And because obviously, I lead science, I teach all days so that I get to teach all the students and actually know where they are and things like that.

Bukky:
At the end of the day, which ends just before around about 2:00, we then have an assembly or a briefing. Basically just looking at how the day has gone. It's a discussion between staff as well as students. And then, we may give out merits, basically awards and things like that. It's immediately followed once the students have gone off site, with a staff meeting, again, just to recap and things and seeing how things really are. Anything we need to unpick, we actually follow through on.

Bukky:
I also support NQTs in my school. So immediately after that meeting, I think touch base with the NQTs and see how things are with them. And then, beyond that, I might get onto do some admin or curriculum-based things until about 4:00. Usually, I mean, I love to stay. I'm a night owl, so the later I can actually stay on site, the better it is for me, because generally now, once I get home, I don't tend to do so much in terms of planning and things like that on my school days.

Patrick:
Okay. And how do you think that pans out for other staff? Because you'll hear, and obviously as a senior leader, you'll hear feedback from your staff in terms of that work-life balance. Do you think there's still a huge percentage of staff generally throughout our schools, still do that, "Well, I'll leave here for at 4:00 or half four or 5:00," whenever their time is that they want to leave school? But they still feel obliged to do their two, three hours at night in terms of planning and marking still? Is there still a culture of that there, do you think?

Bukky:
Yes, there will be. So that's a two-pronged answer because it will depend on the individual person. So if you've got people like me that like to work after school, because some staff prefer to come in a lot earlier to get their work and things like that done. Some will prefer to stay at the end of a day. So you've got a natural preference in terms of the teacher, how they want to work.

Bukky:
But there are definite school cultures where it is expected that you will stay on site until this particular time. Otherwise, there'll be discussions, let's put it that way, about your commitment to the role and what you're expected to do and things like that.

Bukky:
And I think sometimes as well, in addition to that, you may have expectations upon TLR holders or certain heads of department or senior leader team members who expect you to stay on site for even longer beyond that. So yeah, I think it's the school culture and expectations definitely plays into that.

Patrick:
Yeah, it's interesting that you touch on the school culture side because look, it's like any organization whether it's somebody like Texthelp here as a commercial organization or school. The culture goes a long way into kind of addressing those what are expectations. Oftentimes, I tend to think those expectations haven't been set deliberately. They've just been built up as a culture and a school or an organization. It's hard to know. But I don't know what you think about that.

Bukky:
In some cases, yes. There's a drift into how things are. But there are some places where I know they clearly articulate the expectations about when you should be on site. I wouldn't say they dictate as to what you do during a school day, but definitely when you should be on site, which makes sense. But definitely, as to when you're expected to remain on site at the end of a school day. I know that for a fact.

Bukky:
And I do find that surprising because we all have different circumstances. Work-life balance means different things to different people. So just because I might be happy to stay later doesn't mean to say that, because I don't have those commitments that require me to leave, doesn't mean to say that everyone is in a position to do that. So I just think that where schools or academy trainings and what have you dictate that, I find that disrespectful in some regards because you need to know whether or not it fits in with what teachers have to do beyond school, because we're human beings first.

Bukky:
To quote Mary Myatt, someone I love enormously and respect, we're human beings first and then teachers second. So we've got a life beyond the school. And schools need to fit into that as best as they possibly can, in my opinion.

Patrick:
Never forget that, although Bukky, when you meet pupils and parents outside of school, you bump into them in the local shop, they go, "What? What do you mean live outside the school and you have a life and you have a partner or kids of your own? I don't understand."

Bukky:
Yes. You can see the shock on both of them. Oh, oh, yeah. It's a funny experience, yeah, life beyond school, yeah.

Patrick:
Yeah, they don't know it exists. They let them out? So yeah, absolutely. And I'm just thinking there just as you were talking, you referenced sort of admin time and stuff as well. And if I think back, I'm 47 this year, Bukky. So I went to school a long, long time ago. But I can imagine the teachers that taught me at school 30 years ago having a lot less admin to do than a teacher teaching my daughter today. How much of a teacher's time now is built around that, the need for that admin? I mean, is it a significant amount of time in your understanding, in your experience?

Bukky:
Again, I think it depends. There are certain things in terms of... I'm just trying to think, like reports, when you write reports or compiling the grades for assessments and things like that, which you cannot get around, or you can't get away from. And I just think it will be the norm, even for teachers for 30-odd years ago to now.

Bukky:
I think where the issue, and again, you have different examples where some schools, they really streamline their processes to make things as easy as possible. So I remember working in one particular school, an outstanding school, where say for example, parents' evening and parent reports, reports we send home. We had a system where you could actually enter scores where accurate. But they actually equated to particular comments. So it cut the time down so that the parents, when they arrived at parents' evening, had a breakdown which was really clear and then able to engage with the different teachers. So that was a great example.

Bukky:
But then, you have some who are quite particular in what they want to do. And that can add to the workload, because it might be in a particular format. So say, for example, if you plan lessons. Now, I don't take lesson planning to be admin as such, but just to give you an example, Patrick.

Bukky:
So I can plan a lesson in half an hour. You know, start, main parts, demonstrate your learning and review. Easy to do. If you've got setups where they require you do it in a particular format, that will add a little bit of time because you need to tweak it and things like that. And it adds pressure, because if people are going to drop into your lesson to make sure that you're using that format, that's more pressure on you. So that adds a stress.

Bukky:
So things like that, it depends on what schools expect in addition to the norm. So things like data entry. It used to drive me crazy where you had departmental meetings in which you're given data in one particular format. You enter it in. But then a member of SLT might want to see the same data but in a different format. You're thinking, "But why? It's on SIM. Just grab it from there." So yeah. Yeah.

Bukky:
The admin aspect, I think it depends on the school. It can add quite a lot, depending on what you're being required to do.

Patrick:
So senior leaders need to be cognizant of that and understanding, I guess, yeah. And simplify that approach to admin.

Bukky:
I think some are. Some are. What was interesting particularly from last year's pandemic when we had the true lockdown, I think that it highlighted the culture of the school. So the schools where you had leaders who were very mindful of avoiding adding extra load to staff or making sure that they could do what they needed to do but without burdening them, they were very clear in articulating that. And the schools where it seemed as though the pandemic wasn't even here and they didn't even bear in mind about people's circumstances, how stressed they were, mental health and wellbeing, all those particular aspects, they added it on. So yeah, I think it's a lot. It goes to school culture and expectations and I think in some cases, what people expect teachers to do.

Patrick:
Yeah. What tools and strategies have you been using to kind of help manage workload? Obviously, it looks like clearly... I took a piece of advice from what you said earlier, which was to kind of design your time well. Know when your cutoff is and know when you can make that split. And I don't know whether that was intentional on your part, but that was a clear learning for me.

Patrick:
But what else do you do? What strategies do you kind of deploy to help you with your own workload first of all, rather than to help your staff?

Bukky:
Right. So with mine, I have my mobile. I've even got it here. This thing helps me enormously. So for example, I love to use platforms that work across any device that I use. My mobile is my first. So for example, I would maybe create meeting minutes on here, check emails on here, sometimes plan lessons, look at resources. I do a lot on my mobile where I can then go into work or come home and just pick up where I've actually left off. That helps.

Bukky:
In my school, we use Google. So I'm getting more familiar with the applications that we use. So for example, as I say, Google Docs. Nothing special like Google Docs, Sheets and things like that. But I make sure for example, with regards to say, lessons, if I deliver lessons, I deliberately plan them on a PowerPoint so that I can go back to it the following year and then, tweak it and things like that. So it's a little bit of front loaded in terms of investing time in it. But I know it's there. And if there are changes to the specification, I can make tweaks, but it's done.

Bukky:
I use voice notes and things like that. So as I say, my devices are key, because it enables me to just work seamlessly across one platform or one device to another.

Patrick:
Yeah. I suppose from a technology perspective, the important thing for me, and I think this is what you're saying there, Bukky, is using the technology that's right for you to achieve your goals. I mean, you've said Voice Note, some people will be like, "I'm never using voice. I don't see the point." I'm not a Voice Note user but there are many other tools that I use in a similar type of way that can help prompt me and help organize my day. And I guess, that's a useful piece of advice though, is to use technology that's right for you.

Bukky:
It's so key, so key. And you're so right, Patrick. It's about exploring time to find what works best for you. So in recent roles where I've actually been responsible as a senior leader for deploying the use of technology whole school for students as well as departments, we use different platforms. So it's really like Outlook and Microsoft and things like that, which I was familiar with and I prefer to use. But then, as I say, at the present school I'm at, we use Google. So in a way, I use a hybrid of different things.

Bukky:
But I think as you say, Patrick, it's so important to find what works for you. So there are certain things that I use like for example, I'm leaning over... You can't see this. I have a pouch of USB flash drives, which anyone would be shouting out, "You shouldn't use that. You've got the cloud." But it's something that I like. It works for me. It just makes me feel comfortable.

Bukky:
And I think we've got bear in mind that it's difficult sometimes to change. You've got preferences. You've got preferred ways of working that you can make work really quickly for you. And I think it's important to take that in mind.

Bukky:
But it's useful for teachers, school leaders, to find tools that help them. And if it synchronizes to what you're using in your school already, that's brilliant. I think it makes it even more effective, because it's about again, as you said, about time. The question that you said that everyone said, "We don't have enough time," having those type of tools saves time.

Patrick:
And I suppose that's the conundrum, though. And I know you and I have talked about this before. But I've always been of the school of thought that I will unofficially be classed a nerd, Bukky, and I don't want to put that nerd title on anybody at all. But I've always thought about technology as a thing that I want to invest time in. But here's why, because I've always felt that technology assists me in some area of life.

Bukky:
Yes.

Patrick:
So to spend a bit of time on my iPhone camera will make me take better photographs. And there's always a benefit. And I always think it's important to look at a bit of technology and either rule it out and go, "You know what? It's not for me. It's not going to help me out." That short bit of time has stopped me wasting time.

Patrick:
But also, the conundrum I guess is, do we have the time now to spend time looking at a bit of technology, learning how to use it with the view that oh, that'll help save us some time later down the line? Do we have that time? Do we want to do it?

Bukky:
Do we have the time? I think we make time for what we feel is important, is what I'm going to say. And I'm going to mention a particular program I'm actually on.

Bukky:
So Lawrence Tijjani and Ben Rouse actually set up what's it called? It's Google Diversity EdTech Educators Program. So it was launched actually, in October 2020. And it was to enable more people from underrepresented backgrounds to be skilled up and actually become trainers and things like that.

Bukky:
But anyone who looked at my time, thinking, "Bukky, you're busy," and I'm always busy as I can imagine you are, Patrick as well. But for me, I just thought this was a great opportunity because it will enable me to use the Google applications properly, rather than fudging around and just trying to make due and you're not using things effectively or to its full capacity. And already being on this particular program means oh my goodness. Oh, what? You mean I can do this in a few clicks rather than the half an hour it's taken me just to stumble and fumble around? And more importantly, share those tips and tricks as well.

Bukky:
So I think that in order to get the most, it's like for example, our mobiles. You know for example, we've got all these applications and things on it, but we only use about 10% of the capacity. If we spent more time really understanding how to use it, the circles of tech, you could get a lot more out of it that would help you to be more productive and that has a potential to ease your workflow as well.

Patrick:
Yeah. No, absolutely. I couldn't agree more. And you speak very highly of the Google Diversity EdTech Educators Program. And so, that's obviously went very well. Are they repeating that program? Or is that an ongoing program now? How are they running that?

Bukky:
It's going to be repeated, yeah. So for example, if anyone's interested and they actually either get in touch with Ben or Lawrence with regard to that, or even Google, the program, you would actually find. They recently, I think they started the second say, cohort of educators for that. So my understanding is it will be an ongoing program. But get in touch with those guys and they'll be able to give you more details. But it's been invaluable because now, I can really use... It's helped build my confidence with what I'm doing. But more importantly, it's helping me to use the tools even more effectively so I can get much more out of it, and also, for my students.

Patrick:
Yeah, brilliant. Now, just thinking about so you've looked at some of your own strategies there, some of the technology tools, advice in and around investing some time in that and some extra training as well. But I'm wondering in general, on the workload side, how do you guide and support as a senior leader, your staff? I mean, what do you put in place as a senior leader? Is it a technology thing? Is it a practical thing? Is a work-life balance? I mean, how do you help support your staff in Edith Kay for example, to manage their workload?

Bukky:
By making sure that whatever we do has an impact on the students' learning. So we're not going to ask students and staff to do anything additional. Will staff be expected to plan lessons? Yes, they will be expected to plan lessons. Do staff have to engage with say providing reports to parents and things like that? Yes, we do. Do staff have to have data entry points? Yes, we do. These are key things.

Bukky:
But we have processes in place. So for example, with the data entry, we use Google Sheets so they can be accessible anywhere. And it's formatted in a way that you literally just click. The admin person who actually set it up was really great at making sure that all we needed to do was just select a few things so that we could actually spend less time immersed in it, but then able to get the results and information that we need. And then, she was able to use that information to create Google Forms that were then used to create reports that went home. So things like that helps cut down workload for staff.

Bukky:
Yeah, I'm just thinking. As I say, we don't ask staff to do anything that's going to add to their workload. And we have the conversations and things like that. So we are very transparent. And that's because of the fact that from my head teacher's perspective, in order for us to do what we need to do for our students, to be ready for our students because we work in a special educational needs school, we need to be well. And where if there's anything that we're asking staff to do that's actually going to impact upon that and on their wellbeing, then there's an open conversation to have that so we can actually review about whether or not it actually can be done a different way.

Bukky:
But I'm quite impressed, I have to say, personally speaking from what I've seen, in terms of how we actually put things in place to try and minimize the workload demands. But then again, the context is different because it's a smaller cohort of students and things like that. But there has been thinking that's been put in it to ensure that we don't overload staff unnecessarily.

Patrick:
I'm going to pick on two words that you said there, which were for me, the most striking words in there. Very simple words, but open conversation. And I think that open conversation about well, why are we doing this? Why do we need to it? Or maybe even asking, do we need to do this, I think is very important because I suppose, Bukky, there's additional workload, or the workload stress is even pre-pandemic that still exists now. They're bound to have knock-on effects in terms of mental health and wellbeing in general in students.

Bukky:
Absolutely.

Patrick:
Do you see that being... I mean, of course, we all see mental health and wellbeing being challenged and stretched at this point in time. Do you see those knock-on effects?

Bukky:
I am particularly right now, with the teacher assessments as I mentioned before and the exam grades. So you've got a lot of year 11 teachers up and down the country, SLT, head teachers involved in this, who are trying to make sure that they do the right things by their students, but then cope with the volumes of evidence that they're trying to get in place. So one part of me thinks, "Well, as teachers, we'd always have that formative assessments, homework, mock exams that highlight where the students are."

Bukky:
But teachers are generally, they're conscientious. They want to make sure they do it right. And particularly if you've got the issue or the fact that you're going to have to present the evidence so that it justifies, it ties in with the grade you're actually awarding the students. That does put the pressure on. And as I say, the students are stressed as well. So I just think it's an unfortunate coincidence.

Bukky:
I think a way around this could have been to receive the information a heck of a lot earlier so we knew what we were being expected to do around about this time. That would have helped. Giving more time to do things, I think sometimes it's not a question, Patrick, about what you're being asked to do, but how much time you're expected to do it in. And that causes the stress and anxiety. So if we had a longer lead-in, say for example, I don't know, say for example, before Christmas we knew this was what was going to happen. You've got a term at least, to get things in place, rather than yeah, what we're experiencing now.

Patrick:
Yeah. And I suppose you mentioned there just teachers always trying to do what's best for their students and putting themselves under pressure. But I suppose it's inevitable. If you're under an extreme amount of pressure in terms of workload and your mental health is perhaps suffering because of that, at some point, despite your best intentions, students could very well suffer at the end of that as well-

Bukky:
Oh, they will.

Patrick:
... because the teachers are buckling under pressure.

Bukky:
They will. They will. And it's when I call the stresses that leak out. So we know how savvy students are. They know their teachers, right? So if the teachers are maybe more, what's the word? Maybe pent up or expressing frustration. Within my school for example, we do our very best to ensure that if we've got any stresses, or anything that's affecting us and how we are, that we provide a safe space for that to be spoken through so that it doesn't trickle onto what we're actually doing in the lesson, because our students will pick it up. And they, themselves, they're anxious naturally, will become more so. And they won't do as well as they possibly can do with regards to assessments and things like that.

Patrick:
Of course, Bukky, one of the things that's been highlighted, and look, I've seen it, even just on Twitter, I've had a look at how many teachers are either considering career changes, they're falling off the profession. And this is happening at all ends. This is NQT level that have just managed to get through their first year, or perhaps, can't get even a placement, and educators that have been educators for many years and leading from the front. So that must be a concern as well. If we don't get this workload right, there's so many things can be impacted really negatively.

Bukky:
Yes. Yes, I agree. I think that again, when we look back with hindsight, we could always change things. But I just think that it's unfortunate the way... Okay, so let me make it clear. I'm not blaming schools. I'm not blaming school leaders by mentioning this, just to make it really clear. I just think beyond that, it's unfortunate in terms of how things have actually turned out, because we managed to get through the pandemic. We managed to get things in place to try and make staff and schools feel as though they were being heard and supported. But I just think that for some people, it feels too much.

Bukky:
And I know for example, if I were working full-time... There's a reason why I work part-time. I've got lots of different interests and things like that. I work in different ways. If I were to work full-time, I think I'd probably just say, "I can't continue with this. It's just too much," because it's no longer a Monday to Friday role. It will bleed into your own time, be it your personal time, family time, what have you, in order to make sure that you can actually get things done as expected.

Bukky:
So I'm not surprised to hear that people from senior leaders, head teachers, all the way down to NQTs are leaving, because after such a challenging year, yeah, I think you need to feel as though you are trusted to do your role, that you have some control as to what should be done within your school setting and what should be left. And I just think that if your hands are tied in that regard, you may question about whether or not this is the role for you.

Patrick:
Yeah, absolutely. It's sad to see. But I think it certainly shows that workload. Whilst it is only one of those things, it's something that we've all got to collectively address.

Patrick:
And there's something else that came across when I was researching ahead of today, Bukky. And one of the things that came across, and you're so active on Twitter and I know you've got a huge following there, and I am one of them, it has to be said.

Bukky:
Oh, bless you.

Patrick:
You are on my little alert button. Oh, there's another one by Bukky. But one of the things I've noticed you pick up on is this #teacher5aday, through Dr. Lucy Kelly. And I'm fascinated by that because that is in effect, a journaling initiative, if I've got that right.

Bukky:
Yes, that's right.

Patrick:
I'm asking you because between you and me and our listeners, I tried to explain this one to my good lady teacher wife last night and I did a terrible job of explaining why this was useful. So I'm hoping you can help me out and explain to our listeners what that's about and how it can help, or how you've seen it help.

Bukky:
Yeah. So just to clarify, so with #teacher5aday, it's been around I think for about five, six years. And Martyn Reah, who's active on Twitter, put it together as one way to help teachers, educators take charge of their own wellbeing. And there's a very interesting backstory with regard to that.

Bukky:
Now, last year, Dr. Lucy Kelly actually was involved I think through a university, if I remember this correctly, with a journaling project. And it basically means that you spend I think about 20 minutes for... How long do we do it for? A term. When I got involved, we did it for a term roughly. I think it was about a term. You spent 20 minutes in the evening just journaling in a variety of different ways. So you know the traditional way of journaling is just writing down how you felt and all the rest of it.

Bukky:
But she had a way of disengaging from your school day, so it might be with a cup of tea or listening to some music or something like that. Then, actively journaling, either writing or as a doodle or with voice notes. And then just reflecting on do you want to keep that particular piece of journaling or just discard it? And it's a way of disengaging from what may be a hectic day but tapping into your own wellbeing.

Patrick:
Brilliant. And you know what's fascinating to me about that is that we were talking earlier on in the podcast just about that requirement when you take the technology piece and you go, "I'm going to invest in this because it may well help me out."

Bukky:
Yeah.

Patrick:
And the journaling program is no different I suppose in a way, because you're taking that 20 minutes, that safe space, that cup of tea switch off and you're going, "Now, this is me time. I'm investing in this because this will help me out."

Bukky:
Yes.

Patrick:
I know it's to different degrees, but I think we've all got to recognize that sometimes we've just got to take that time out, invest it in ourselves to do better.

Bukky:
You have to. We're not robots. And we need to invest in topping up what helps us internally.

Bukky:
See there was a really great quote that Anita Devi... So she is a special educational needs and disability specialist. She's really fantastic in the role that she actually does. I remember a quote that she shared about stillness. So either you act from a place of stillness because you've rested, or you wind yourself down. You wear yourself down so much that you're having... No, it's not stillness. It was resting. Not stillness, rest. So either you operate, because you take time to yourself and you've rested to operate from that and obviously it will aid your wellbeing, or if you wear yourself down so much that your body has to stop you to rest, either way, we still have to rest.

Bukky:
So how are you going to do that? Is it from a place where you've consciously taken time to be in a rested state? Or are you running yourself ragged, which I have to admit I did. It took COVID-19 to really make me sit back and think, "Okay, Bukky, how are you going to do things and make sure that you invest time to be rested so that you can actually give back more?" Because as I said, it sounds counterintuitive. I think some of us, and myself as well, have a little... Sometimes in my mind it's I've got to do more. I've got to do more. I've got to do more to show I'm productive. Whereas actually, taking those breaks makes you come back and be even more productive.

Patrick:
And that's led me right into what we're going to call, Bukky, I hope at some point, somebody's going to put in some very dramatic music at this stage, our quick fire round. But actually one of the questions in our quick fire round was going to be around you relaxing. What do you do at the end of the day to relax? What does Bukky Yusuf do at the end of the day?

Bukky:
All right. So there's two ways for that then, Patrick. So first of all, if it's at school, I walk. It's about 15, 20 minute walk from the school to the nearest tube station. And I use that to talk to my head teachers. It's great. It's just a great way to wind down and talk about the school and things like that. But by the time we've actually got to the train station, I've noticed things around me. So for example, people follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you'll see evidence of things that I notice around me, which is key because if I'm stressed, I'm in my head. When I'm relaxed, I can see things around me. So that's really key.

Bukky:
At home, it's my mobile. It's just like playing games and all that kind of stuff.

Patrick:
Oh, no.

Bukky:
It's terrible. But what I'm getting better at actually doing is making time for a nice cup of tea. I've gone into perfumes and things like that. So again, it just enables me to just be, use my senses. So I might put them on my pulse points and just smell it and things like that, some fragrances. So little things like that. But the mobile's usually involved in it somewhere.

Patrick:
It's funny, isn't it, how it's become both that work tool and that obsession at times, but then also, the relaxer in another. I mean, I know apologize for this, because I talk about my wife way too much. It's obviously, how much I love her, Bukky, but one of-

Bukky:
Oh, that's lovely.

Patrick:
I hope she's not listening. I'll be in trouble for that. But one of the things, busy teaching day and I can just see her looking very, very, very seriously at her phone. And my instant reaction is, "What's wrong?" And she looks at me and I fall on this every time. She goes, "I'm playing my game." And she's got this numbers game that seems to be her way to detox after a busy, stressful teaching day that's just I'm going to absorb myself into this game, where it is. It's challenging me, but it's how I need to be challenged to clear my mind of the challenges of the day.

Bukky:
Absolutely.

Patrick:
For me though, Bukky, I'm the walk along the beach with the dog kind of person.

Bukky:
Oh, bless.

Patrick:
Just don't think about anything but that. So that's a good answer and I love your answer there. So you talked about your phone. So what's your most used app? Tell me that. What's your most used app?

Bukky:
Oh, anybody who knows me, Google Keep. I use it-

Patrick:
You must be the only person in the United Kingdom who answers that with that.

Bukky:
Really? You know what? I'm surprised to hear that, because for me, it enables me to do lists. I've got my to-dos. I can put voice notes in there, which then transcribes. For example, if I'm on my mobile and I've got my Google Keep, I can actually go online to then actually just take this transcription and actually put it into a document. It is so versatile. I just love it. And I use it pretty much every single day. So yeah, that's definitely the one for me.

Patrick:
It's funny on the technology pieces how we take all these things for granted. I do genuinely use Google Keep as well. But I love the fact that I can be having breakfast and oh, I must remember to do that. And by the time I walk to my desk, it's there on my desktop. And you were talking earlier about Google Sheets, something almost mundane, a spreadsheet. But the fact that it's just live and collaborative means we're not emailing things anymore and attachments. Oh, did you change that? Did he change that? Did she change that? So those things are really useful.

Patrick:
So here's another one for you. These questions are great. I'm liking these today with you. One thing you can't start your day without.

Bukky:
Oh, are you talking about my general day, or school day?

Patrick:
Yeah. No, your general. Let's go with your general day. For me, it's my espresso. Can't do without that in the morning.

Bukky:
Oh. You know what I'm going to say, don't you?

Patrick:
If you're going to say your phone and Google Keep, you are, aren't you?

Bukky:
No, because yeah, it's terrible. Yeah, "I'm not an addict," she says. No. So at home, oh gosh, at home, yeah, it's my mobile. I do check it a lot, I have to say. It's terrible. It's really bad.

Bukky:
At school, the one thing I cannot do without is starting with my peppermint tea, a sweet cup of peppermint tea. I cannot do without that.

Patrick:
That gets you off to the start? Okay.

Bukky:
Yes.

Patrick:
And I've got a Room 101 in front of you. Not familiar with it, the quiz show in the UK here. So this is take one thing and if you could take one thing out of teaching, I'm thinking in this case that contributes to teacher workload, and drop it in Room 101, just get it out of the way, never to be seen again, lock it in that room, what would it be, Bukky?

Bukky:
For me, I've mentioned it already. It's having data entry points that are repeatedly entered in different formats drives me crazy. I would put it in there straightaway.

Patrick:
Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Bukky:
I'm hoping the pandemic has done away with that and that things are more streamlined so you've got only one application or piece of software where you just enter it in one. And then, it can be used in different ways, rather than getting teachers to put it in this particular format and then put it in this particular format. And yeah, that drives me crazy. So yeah, I would get rid of that straightaway.

Patrick:
Brilliant. And last one for you today and I quit. This is a hard one, I think. This is like one of those interview questions. You know, where you go, "Oh." What's your top piece of advice for fellow teachers? It can be across anything. It can be as simple as taking time for yourself, or don't use your phone as much as me, or whatever it is. What's your top piece of advice?

Bukky:
Oh, yeah, that is a difficult one. I think I'd have to say two. I'd have to say two things. So first of all, make a decision as to when you are going to stop working in the evening on a school day. And I know it may be easier said than done, particularly if you've got responsibilities and things like that. But I think that having that decision and having someone... What works for me is when I'm accountable to someone else. They'll say, "Did you do this?" I'm like, "Oh," because I don't want to say, "No, I didn't."

Bukky:
So that's really helpful. But also, I would say, invest time in using... Whatever piece of software or application you use, invest a little bit more time to just work out how to use it more effectively and work out what the shortcuts are. Because it amazes me, even with things as simple as say, Word or PowerPoint, people may... For example, copy, cut, paste, repeat an action or undo, I use shortcuts. And it just amazes me when I see people, they go to the different parts of their screen and top left-hand side, click, select all, I'm just thinking, "That is just so much time." So yeah, invest a little bit of time just to make sure that you can use whatever application or software that you use commonly, frequently, as well as and effectively as you can do.

Patrick:
Brilliant advice. And Bukky, it's been an absolute pleasure to talk to you, as always today.

Bukky:
Thank you, Patrick.

Patrick:
We could, I know, probably go on for a few hours. But I think it's important to say as we start to wrap up with our listeners, there's no doubt that we're all under increasing workload as a profession. It has been a challenging year. We all know that. And we all hope that we can find that right balance.

Patrick:
At Texthelp, we've ran our reports. We've completed the statistics. But behind that, we also realize that there's individual people behind that that are struggling with workload. They need help. We know there's knock-on effect from that.

Patrick:
And really, I think one thing that's come out of this is we've seen Bukky talk about her phone and certain tools like Google Keep. She's invested a bit of time in using technology a little bit smarter, a little bit better on her terms, not on anybody else's to help her in balancing workload. And I would encourage you all to do that.

Patrick:
So a huge thank you to Bukky. I'm sure it'll not be the last time that we'll hear from her. If you want to hear more which no doubt you absolutely do, you can catch up on our recent panel discussion that we had with a few other and wonderful educators on that panel discussion, if you remember, Bukky, a couple months back.

Bukky:
Yeah.

Patrick:
And we talked about teacher workload within that as well with more of a technology slant.

Bukky:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Patrick:
And you can get access to that by just visitingtext.help/workloadchallenge. So I want to thank you all today for listening to us and for bearing with what I know was a wonderful chat, Bukky. And I'll make no apologies for talking about my wife. I talk to her the same amount of time you talk about your phone. So we're all [crosstalk 00:40:32]

Bukky:
I don't love my phone though. You're allowed to do that. I don't love my phone.

Patrick:
I don't know. But I'd encourage all of you just to subscribe to our Texthelp Talks podcast on your favorite podcast player or streaming service. You can find that just at Texthelp Talks. And do please join in the discussion #TexthelpTalks. We'd love to hear from you. We'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts on what you've heard from both myself and Bukky today on the podcast. And do subscribe to listen to our other episodes brought to you by the education and workplace team here at Texthelp.

Patrick:
I've been Patrick and this is Bukky Yusuf. And thanks to all of you for joining us today. And we'll see you again soon.