How to get your school through ‘SORT IT’ mode

Executive headteacher at Prestolee TSA, Stephen Holden, shares his thoughts on how to get your school through the ‘SORT IT MODE’ of today

There are three common responses for the human: fight, flight or freeze. In teachers, there are four: fight, flight, freeze and SORT IT MODE.

Teachers are used to receiving vague information and making the best of it; this is where we thrive – we get our heads down and SORT IT. But, like any new ‘threat’, we are usually working under the influence of adrenaline (and coffee) and are sometimes guilty of making early mistakes.

To help get teachers and leaders past this sometimes manic response of SORT IT MODE, here are five thoughts to consider:

1. Don’t be too self-critical

We’ve all been thrust into this world not knowing how to navigate it – just because you teach children every day doesn’t mean you know what to set them when they’re home learning.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, feelings and confidence will change within this period. Own your inexperience in this situation.

2.  Avoid overload

Drip feed resources so people don’t feel overwhelmed – yourself included. We don’t know how long this will last. Have the structures and forethought to split up the work coming from you to your students.

3. Keep it brief

Too much information can lead to snow blindness. There are some messages you want to get through and some that are less important.


You might also like: Lightening the lockdown load


Less is more, brevity and accuracy are key. Try to fit everything into just a few sentences. 

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4. Parents aren’t teachers

It’s important to remember that most parents aren’t teachers. They will be worried, scared, unsure. So, measure your expectations.

Consider the work you want back and be wary of ‘one-piece-a-day’ expectations. We don’t know who has to use the family laptop when all family members are working from home.

They deserve the flexibility to make ‘learning from home’ work for them, so don’t inhibit that with your own expectations.

5. Wellbeing first

Wellbeing is everything at the moment. Making sure that your staff, at every level, feel supported and valued is key. Staff are feeling vulnerable and they need to know that they can choose when to engage with schoolwork and when to be with their family/enjoy free time.

Make sure they know that switching off is OK. And this includes their activity in staff WhatsApp groups and social media.

Like any phase, SORT IT MODE will soon pass. In the coming weeks as the adrenaline fades and our rational thought resumes, we will enter our normal cycles of well thought-out, considered problem solving.

To read more on Stephen Holden’s advice for SORT IT MODE and how best to handle it, read the full article on the Promethean blog here.

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