Tom Sherrington: This is how I work

I am Tom Sherrington and this is how I work

Twitter: @headguruteacher

Current job: Head of King Edward VI Grammar School

Been a teacher since: 1987

Location:  Live in London, Work in Chelmsford

Current mobile device:  Blackberry Bold 9900

Current computer: iMac (11,3)

School-issued devices: ipad

One word that best describes how you work: Continuously

How do you manage your calendar/diary?

I use Outlook on my school pc and ipad. I love the way the ipad is always updated without any physical connection or sync operation.   I’ve stopped syncing to my Blackberry because of the wires…

How do you manage your lesson planning?

In my head: I organise resources and talk to technicians but never write down a lesson plan.  I wouldn’t suggest this is a good plan but it’s how I work.  I only teach four hours a week.

How do you manage your marking?  

In fairly large bursts after periods of extensive peer and self-marking.  I focus on set-piece assessments and tests with most other work marked in class and lots of oral feedback.  I follow my own advice as presented here:

What’s your best tip for term-time weekends?

My family and kids take over at the weekends; I’m a Dad-chauffeur a lot of the time and I watch my son play football most Saturdays.   Early Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings are good blog-release and reading periods… but you need to have some down time.

What do you do during school holidays?  

We always go abroad somewhere  or go camping.  It’s the only time I get to read properly. Sometimes we do a house swap – last year we swapped with a family in Denmark. It works really well. Exam results days define a pretty tight window. I went to China at Easter – working! But it was a great trip: I can’t complain.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I love WordPress.  So easy to use with lots of great visual features. I like Hootsuite for twitter on my computer because of all the streams. I also like the Blackberry twitter app, especially since they included ‘interactions’.   I can’t get ipad twitter apps to stop crashing!   Spotify has transformed music in our family; we rarely use itunes and never buy CDs.  We have a huge imac in the kitchen which our lives revolve around.

What offline tools can’t you live without?

I love using Garageband. Before blogging, music was my thing:  I tried to upgrade to Logic but it’s too complicated.

What’s your main workspace like?

At work one desk is a mess of paper but I have another big table with nothing on it for meetings.  At the end of each term I do a big desk-paper purge and throw 90% of it away.  I don’t file things except electronically..and it gets out of hand from time to time.

What do you listen to while you work?

At home I listen to my ipod and spotify.. often my own music or, more recently Foals.  At school I listen to sound of students chatting in the Outdoor Classroom outside my window.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Checking my emails continuously as they arrive on my blackberry or ipad.  I hate dealing with a backlog so I make sure I never have one.  Some see this as anti-social, obsessive, but it keeps me sane!  Like many people, I get several hundred emails a week.. I can’t manage if I don’t open them on arrival, deleting all the marketing rubbish.  I also love Shift+Command+4 for the imac screenshot function.  I use it for all my image manipulation for my blog.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

My head! It’s very unreliable but its the only one I use. Occasionally I flag emails which is helpful.  I should say that I have an excellent PA at work… it is amazing to work with someone who can draft the letters I need to write without me having to edit them at all and someone who has control of my diary… we do it jointly.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

My ipod. I’ve got a fairly old brick-style ipod but I love it! My ipad is also my diary, class register, video player, camera, note-pad and browser.  I take it everywhere.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Keeping an eye on the big picture.  I have a great team who run the school day to day; I see my job as looking ahead… but I still love to run my school’s twitter output, capturing the spirit of the school in the messages we put out.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I go to bed at midnight and wake up at 5.50am every day; Sunday is lie-in day.  My Blackberry is on hand from the time the alarm goes off until the time I switch-it off at night.  That’s pretty tragic but it is true.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m an introvert pretending to be an extrovert when I need to.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

‘Don’t sweat the small stuff”.  My Canadian step-dad says that all the time.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Like many people I suffer continual imposter syndrome.  I imagine the other people doing things properly when I’m making it up as I go along… but actually we probably all do that.

I would like to I’d like to see Chris Husbands, @Director_I0E,  answer these same questions.


Many thanks to Tom for agreeing to post here. Other This is how I work posts are available here.


Tom Sherrington: This is how I work

One thought on “Tom Sherrington: This is how I work

  1. tjjteacher says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us Tom. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. You’ve obviously got high high work rate!

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