I returned to work on Friday 30th August for our annual senior leadership meeting. This is traditionally before the start of each academic year. As you would expect, this gathering is strategic, but full of holiday gossip and banter; as well as headline stories regarding summer examinations; school news; building works and staffing and student matters.
Despite the frolics and enlightenment of the meeting, I left work in a state of consternation. This was nothing to do with anything specific about school, or any disastrous examination grades; it was more to do with the rude-awakening of the brain!
Having managed to completely switch off for at least four weeks (I know this is not possible for some teachers and senior leaders), but for the second year in a row, I managed to have a complete rest. Now, what would I put this down to? Well, staying on ‘British soil’ for the summer. A Staycation! Time passes by, much more slowly, and I would highly recommend it.
Before reading this post, press play to the following video, and then read on…
Returning to school:
When returning to school, the inevitable torment sinks in and this is two-fold. You are either panic-stricken, or torn between the excitement of returning to see students and colleagues. This sensation, regardless of which one you may sympathise with, is intermingled with the trepidation of ‘groundhog-day’ syndrome. This is more pertinent when starting your 17th academic year!
So, in anticipation for getting ‘fired-up’ for the start of a new academic year, I have written a light-hearted post with suggestions for the young and old; the wise and the naive. How do you get jeered-up for #FieryTeaching?
I appreciate that these may not be on your list. However, here is a simple checklist to get yourself motivated for the coming weeks and months (make sure the video is playing):
- You have a job! ‘What?’ I hear you say! Yes, you have a job. My leadership job was made redundant 2 years ago and I chose voluntary redundancy. I now see work as a blessing.
- You also have a ‘great’ job. You shape the lives of every student you meet.
- The holidays. Not many professions provide you with over 94 days off every year! And it won’t be too long before you can have another rest. Count yourself very lucky indeed.
- Go shopping and stock your desk-drawer up with tea, coffee, snacks! Whatever you need, haul in the supplies. You’ll need it!
- Top of a teacher’s list is a new pack of highlighter pens other stationery delights.
- Put on those new shoes / shirts / suit / dress and swagger down the corridor. Perhaps breeze pass the headteacher’s office or that colleague whose eye you’ve been trying to catch!
- In the classroom, know that for the first couple of weeks, your students will behave impeccably until you and they settle into the swing of things… Enjoy it while you can and then follow @PivotalPaul and @TomBennett71 on Twitter for refreshing ideas.
- Take a walk down the hustle and bustle of corridors, playgrounds and classrooms. Students will respect you much more when they see ‘you’ out and about on their patch. Get out of your office/classroom, even on a cold and wet day.
- Speak with colleagues. Find out what they have been up to and what their plans are for being back at work. At all costs; avoid idle conversation about the weather; new school policies; your timetable; being back at work! Focus on what risks you will be testing in the classroom.
- Can you remember any inspirational and relaxing moments you’ve had over the break? Bring them back into your classroom. And don’t forget, some of your students will be glad to be back at school! This is a safe environment for them, so try not to go over the top with stories …
- Spend a week or two creating new displays with your students. Visuals that are engaging, sensory and informative. Open evening and parent evenings are never far away.
- Try re-arranging your classroom to change the perspective. Move your desk to the back of the classroom!
- Your school and your colleagues are your extended family in many ways. Imagine a quieter life, stuck in an office with no-one to learn from? How boring! Choose a critical friend outside of your subject area, or appoint yourself your own dedicated coach for the year ahead.
- Reading: Look up and follow some of my favourtite educational blogs. Fill yourself with cutting edge gossip.
- Take the book you never finished and keep it on your desk. Use those rare moments to finish the book when you get 5 minutes to yourself.
- Consider a few risks. Try a new style of teaching, a new book or a new resource.
- If applicable and you feel like it, celebrate your examination results or strategies that were successful last term. Tweak and improve, and then push the standard even higher.
- Write your hopes for the academic term down onto a sheet of paper. Pin the list onto your noticeboard and keep this vision in a prominent position.
- Make a list of resolutions.
- Treat yourself to a new alarm clock. Perhaps a tea-maid to percolate a wake-up drink for you at 6am.
- Ofsted: Make sure you are on-fire with the latest Ofsted guidance for the classroom teacher.
- And finally, when you are feeling absolutely knackered, there is no better cure to feel inspired the next day, than an early night in bed. Yes, before 9pm!
Go get ’em.
- Thwart the Grim-Reaper: #Ofsted reworks (Sep ’13) (teachertoolkit.me)
- 100 Ideas: My book journey by @TeacherToolkit (teachertoolkit.me)