Ok…so you’ve been back at school two weeks but according to Strava most people quit their New Year resolutions on the second Friday of January. Therefore now seems a great opportunity to remind ourselves that a new term is an ideal time to pause and reflect. Don’t just focus on ‘what is working in class?’ but also ‘what needs to change to make you more effective and happier in school this term?’ With a renewed vigour to ‘do things better’ here are 5 resolutions you really can keep.
Resolution 1 – Get organised
Create a marking timetable or annotate your lesson plans with what really needs to be marked because the feedback WILL have an impact in the lesson. As you are planning consider how and when students respond to make progress.
Long and medium term planning is a must for this shorter tem. Sketch out what you will be covering this half term, homework that will be set and assessments. Take a look at the school calendar, what’s coming up that could affect lessons? Having some basis to plan from rather than starting from scratch will support you seeing where the learning is going and where you will need to mark work to assess understanding and progress. No more late night planning for that lesson tomorrow…get ahead.
If you use showmyhomework or any other software to post homework set aside one day a week when you will post them all. I always post homework on a Sunday night with the dates for each individual piece that week.
Tidy your classroom! Knowing where things are and feeling in control can make or break a lesson with regards to behaviour and pace.
Resolution 2 – re-establish the rules
After a holiday students often need reminding of expectations, rules and routines. Take advantage of this and go back to your ‘behaviour basics’. Shake up your seating plan now you know the students better. Reiterate the importance of listening to one another and silence when the teacher is talking. Give praise in EVERY lesson and follow through on sanctions. Need a reminder? Have a look at our behaviour blog.
Resolution 3 – Say ‘observe me’
This term be proactive in meeting those gaps identified in your most recent assessment or mentor meeting. Which of the Teacher Standards do you want to really get a handle of and evidence? Maths teacher Robert Kaplinsky challenged educators to rethink the way we pursue feedback by encouraging an open culture where colleagues are invited into classrooms with a sign on the door focussing on specific areas of practice. Why not adopt this practice? List what you want feedback/support on and approach a colleague to observe you. This may only need to be a 20 minute drop-in but will be highly focussed. On the flip side ask to observe a colleague with the same focus; this is one of the best ways to improve practice.
Resolution 4 – Be kind to yourself and let things go
As well as thinking about your areas for development every week reflect on what has gone well. All adults are prone to guilt; in teaching this is often magnified! Don’t sweat about the small stuff. If the borders on your display are crooked – well so what? They won’t actually stop the children from learning.
Time is precious in teaching so make use of all the resources and tools that you have available to you. Share plans and resources and make being in class as much fun as you can.
Put aside some time every week where you can just do something for yourself. You don’t have to do something active like go out for a run (although that’s good to get the endorphins working which help to make you feel good). You might like to read a book for an hour, watch an episode on netflix or simply just sit and stare.
Resolution 5 – Sleep
Tired teachers are usually not the best teachers. Too often, in an effort to “get it all done,” teachers stay up late and wake up early. Sleep deprivation makes us irritable, more prone to stress, drains our mental abilities and make us less efficient due to a lack of focus and attention. Try these strategies:-
Keep regular hours– going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will train your body to sleep better by getting it into a regular rhythm.
Keep a pen and paper by your bedside. Use them either to make a list before lights out of things that you need to tackle the next day or to write down (and thus ‘dump’) worries that may prevent you from sleeping. You have acknowledged what you need to do and put these ready to be actioned when you are feeling fresher.
Plan your evening backward from bedtime. So, for example, if your bedtime is 10pm you’ll need to begin winding down at 9:30, so whatever you need to do, get it done before 9:30 so you can make sure you are in bed on time. If you prioritise your bedtime like you do your wake time, you’ll be much more likely to get better quality sleep!