DoS Management Tip No 3 – Get rid of the paperwork!

March 15, 2010

One of my management her0es is Dilbert. He teaches us the one key thing that managers must remember at all times

  • Management is pretty silly

What’s true in other industries is true in EFL. Few teachers believe they need to work harder or that they are paid enough for the work they do.

The DoS’s job is to convince them that they are in fact amply rewarded for the work they do and  indeed should work harder. It’s a no-win situation. Why do we do it?

It’s therefore unlikely that the manager will ever be warmly embraced or loved for the work she does – perhaps the best we can hope for is polite toleration.

We can, however, make our lives easier by not adding fuel to the fire. We can try to limit the absurdity of our requests and eliminate those things we do just because ‘that’s what managers are supposed to do.’

I was amazed at just how much paperwork is involved in the job. Forms to fill in, forms to process, forms to wave in teachers’ faces, forms to file, forms to gleefully parade in front of the Director.

I showed the mountain of paperwork to a friend of mine who was visiting the school and I asked him what I should do. ‘Get rid of it,’ he said.

I blinked. ‘Sorry?’

‘Get rid of it.’

I think I blubbered on for half an hour about why I couldn’t possibly get rid of the paperwork. But he was right. I went through every form and asked myself three times if I really needed it. Surprise, surprise many – I discovered – were useless. I got rid of them and I have to say no-one misses ‘CD sign-out sheet’ or ‘Copy of the teacher’s book request form’. We’ve cut out lots of unnecessary pre-observation forms and self-analysis sheets that just seem to burden teachers.

Forms – for some reason – make us feel important and make us feel that we’re managing. In my opinion, forms have little to do with management (well certainly not the management of people). And no-one ever (or at least hardly ever) checks them. We’ve tried our best to get rid of what we can and the school hasn’t collapsed (so far). Dilbert would be proud…maybe.

Let me know what you think!

4 Responses to “DoS Management Tip No 3 – Get rid of the paperwork!”


  1. I think it was an inspired decision.

    Mind you now I work for myself I am horribly undisciplined without a DOS to keep me in line.

    One of your predecessors, Heather B, used to chase me around the IH staffroom waggling unfilled in paperwork at me because it was that, or kiss goodbye to any hope that I would fill it in before August.

  2. chris Says:

    I’m currently in spring-cleaning mode and found your post close to my heart. Like you, I’m trying to get rid of those “jog my memory” forms which never get looked at.

    What you can delegate someone to do (see, I’ve been reading your other posts!) is to make them useful.

    IE: cd sign out form and a comment about which track’s really brill or dire. A book with a really good unit activity etc for teaching collocation / 2nd conditional and whatnot.

    I must say that writing things down helps. Do any NLP course and they’ll tell you in no uncertain terms that writing down your desired outcomes helps achieve them. I know that written reflection after TP helps fix experience and enables teachers to move from thinking about it to thinking about doing something about it.

    GREAT blog, BTW :-)))

    Ooops! Gone on for more than 5 lines so must stop here 😉

    • rileymike7 Says:

      Thanks, Chris.

      I have to write EVERYTHING down – David Allen talks a lot about how the brain is great for coming up with ideas/being creative but is lousy as a storage system – mine seems to only have space for Manchester United football matches and ’80s cop show theme tunes…

      At work we often catalogue things and create forms because it seems the right thing to do but in reality no-one ever looks at them. Those are the forms to bin…


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