David James (@EducationFest): This is how I work

I am David James and this is how I work


David James
David James



Current job: I have a few: Director of IB at Wellington College, Senior MYP School Consultant for the IB and also Director of the Sunday Times Festival of Education. Oh, and teacher of English.

Been a teacher since: 1995

Location: Wellington College

Current mobile device: iPad, iPhone 5, Blackberry, Nexus 7

Current computer: iMac, Toshiba laptop

School-issued devices: Toshiba laptop

One word that best describes how you work: Connectively

How do you manage your calendar/diary?

I prefer to manage it myself, although other people have access to my calendar and can make appointments; I find it saves time to control it myself using Outlook and Google Calendar.

How do you manage your lesson planning?

I try to get these sorted on the Sunday before the teaching week, but many of my best lessons have been composed ‘on the run’ in response to something that has just happened in the news, or on Twitter, on in a magazine I’ve just read.

How do you manage your marking?

Not as well as I should.  It should get easier, but it gets harder.  One thing that has made a difference is Google Docs: it means I can make interventions as the students are writing, and feedback to them quickly so that changes before bad habits become entrenched.

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

Take Saturday off if you can (although in my school we teach Saturday morning). Read.  Walk. Cook.  Watch football.  Mark and prepare lessons Sunday morning and finish work by 7pm.

What do you do during school holidays?

For the last few years I’ve been writing: two new editions of Shakespeare’s plays are due out next year and I’m contracted to write a book on the IB.   I travel, read, meet up with friends. Be with my family. The usual stuff.

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

Google tools dominate my work: Drive, Docs, Chrome, G+.  Because I have so many email addresses I increasingly use Apple’s Mail which brings them all together beautifully: Gmail on Mail is much cleaner and easier to use.  Outlook for planning my Calendar.  I use Twitterific on iPhone, iPad and OSX. Other apps would include Kindle on all devices, Spotify, Facebook and Dropbox.

What offline tools can’t you live without?

I’ve heard there is life offline but I haven’t seen it for a long time. But I still buy books and lots of magazines and newspapers.

What’s your main workspace like?

My office is usually neat and tidy: school PC, phone,  every broadsheet to pick up anything relating to education that day.  It  overlooks a quad in Wellington with a water feature outside, so is rather nice. Home office is surrounded by books and dominated by my iMac and various mobile devices.

What do you listen to while you work?

I subscribe to Spotify Premium, and so I make use of their Apps.  Usually a combination of jazz, chillout, classical…nothing massively distracting.  And I use iTunes of course. I make use of both Spotify’s and iTunes’s radio which introduces me to most new music.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Give things that urgently need doing to busy but efficient people.  Trust others to get things done.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Reminders or Wunderlist.

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

iPad and Nexus 7.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I wouldn’t have the temerity to say.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I don’t tend to get enough of it, but after having three children and being a teacher you tend to get used to be constantly tired.  If I’m not tired I feel guilty for not being so.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Depends on the company.  Probably the latter.

Who would you like to see answer these questions?

I would like to I’d like to see Carl Hendrick and Tom Sherrington answer these same questions.

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

By my mentor, Dave Clifford, in a tough comprehensive: he told me to be firmer, less tolerant, more impatient with those who weren’t trying.  He also told me to enjoy teaching more, and to see it as often surreal and great fun.  He had maximum respect from his students.  He was intolerant of lack of effort but hugely patient with those who were trying their hardest.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A blatant plug: if you’re interested in education why not come along to the next Education Festival? June 21 and 22.


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

David James (@EducationFest): This is how I work

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