What advice would you offer to school teachers who are returning to school?
It’s ‘back to school season’ and teachers will be getting ready for the term ahead. After 24 years in the classroom, here are my 5 bits of advice for teachers – old and new.
- There will be demands from above and below and you’ll need to manage this. Never be afraid of saying ‘no’. There will always be something extra to do or a request to become a ‘champion’; to be part of a new group or initiative, rarely with no time or money allocated. Be precious with your time, but seek out opportunities if you want to invest in your potential – only if everything else is ticking over nicely.
- Focus on the cyclical model of mark-plan-teach. After all, this is what every teacher does best and if you can do those things well, it will improve on other aspects of your school life. Fail to manage something simple such as lesson plans? Then you’ll find yourself on the back-foot, kicking off your lessons, little-more than one step ahead of the kids. That can only lead to two things: anxiety on your part and a dip in standards over time.
- Focus on the students. They will ‘find the gaps’, so don’t give them an inch. Keep your expectations high. Always follow-up and for goodness sake, please follow your school’s behaviour policy. Be consistent, persistent and insistent.
- Pace yourself. Your work will never be done. Look after yourself and remember, you too have a family and a life outside of school. Do not feel guilty about going home at 4:00PM and if someone ‘questions you’ on your way out the door, respond with “Don’t you worry about my wellbeing. I’ve got everything under control …”
- Get connected. Login into Twitter, Facebook and whatever else for professional reasons. There are thousands of teacher sharing advice, exposing nonsense and supporting one another. The people I have met and the relationships and connections I have formed over the past 10 years have all been down to Twitter. More importantly, it’s not only kept me out of my silo, it’s challenged my ideas and work, exposed myths, allowing me to share school ideas and receive ‘instant feedback’. It’s often quicker than waiting for a meeting and/or feedback from your colleagues who are in your school! The beauty of social media, is it can be one giant staffroom with people dipping in and out when it suits them.
Good luck for the year ahead and get in touch if you need anything.