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As a teacher, are you ‘in the zone’?

Daniel Grindrod 19 June, 2017

As teachers are struggling with the heat not just from the weather but also from all of the demands of this half-term, how many will be feeling like this?

The last couple of weeks in school feel like a trance, I’m sure this is the case for many other teachers across the country. We’re in the middle of the most hectic term in the year, and yet I feel as though I’m running in automatic; a sort of trance.


Like every other teacher in the country; I have deadlines, meetings, fixtures and moderation days coming out of my ears, but I feel I’m working in a zone of performance. Lessons are flying past with energy, interventions and progress, the meetings that I’m holding are positive and productive, and deadlines are being met. Is this based on the experience I’ve had of this time before? Or is it coming from the extra planning and work that I completed during Easter and after work?


Is what I’m feeling similar to when you hear athletes speaking about their zone of performance or ‘flow’? Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, the Hungarian psychologist, coined this term and has published research to demonstrate that this is possible for people to experience flow outside of sport and in the workplace. This is through the achievement of the nine components Csíkszentmihályi identified:


  1. Challenge-skills balanceis achieved when you have confidence that your skills can meet the challenge in front of you.
  2. Action-awareness mergingis the state of being completely absorbed in an activity, with tunnel vision that shuts out everything else.
  3. Clear goalscome into focus when you know exactly what is required of you and what you want to accomplish.
  4. Unambiguous feedback is constant, real-time feedback that allows you to adjust your tactics. For example, fans and coaches will let you know how you’re doing.
  5. Concentrationon the task at hand, with laser-beam focus, is essential.
  6. Sense of controlis heightened when you feel that your actions can affect the outcome of the game.
  7. Loss of self-consciousnessoccurs when you are not constantly self-aware of your success.
  8. Transformation of timetakes place when you lose track of time due to your total focus on the moment.
  9. Autotelic experienceis achieved when you feel internally driven to succeed even without outside rewards. You do something because you love to do it. (


The one thing I’m waiting to jump out on me as I walk down one of the corridors or to the field to start a lesson is the come down/crash when everything just gets that bit too much and there’s no energy left in the tank.

Working until 10pm at night and starting again at 7.45 the following morning can’t last forever can it?

And when will I realise that I’ve missed something off my endless ‘to do’ list?

Is this feeling of flow commonplace across the profession, or is it linked to my involvement in sports?


Daniel Grindrod is a PE teacher at Joyce Frankland Academy, Essex. “I have created Grindstone Education to share and promote the resources that I create, still a work in progress. I am interested in anything regarding innovation in education as long as it benefits the pupils learning. I have a specific interest in technology.”