Happy Christmas/Season Greetings to you all! Thank you for finding your way to my blog!
As we approach the new year the #Nurture14/15 (<– click for mine,) posts will start filling up our timelines. (They are excellent by the way! Also, a massive thank you to the many mentions).
The changing date on our calendar will also see the new year resolutions, promises and targets rolling in a plenty! The gym memberships will be bought, diet plans will be written and heartfelt efforts to stop smoking/drinking will all start to take shape!
In the bubble of teaching you will hear/read this year (again)…
‘I will be more organised.’
‘I will be more consistent.’
‘I won’t start sentences with don’t!’
With the best intentions in the world these promises usually last untill the early January blues set in- the first weekend!? We will then fall back in our set ways of what is known, what is comfortable and what is usual. This is often triggered by our usual difficult student(s), a mass of marking and a change being forced by SLT? It may be unknown to us that this has actually happened and we are back to doing what we always have.
This short blog will hopefully give you some ideas/help on how to promote changes in your classroom, with your students and your practice. These are based on methods I have tried and tested in my own classroom and on some very limited reading.
Knowing what you want to change and what you actually need to change may be two very different things? A good place to start is to ask your students. I always review my lessons with my classes at the end of term. (It may be worth asking/discussing a/with colleague? Your coach? Mentor?)
I ask simple questions which may/may not require written responses such as… (These can be anonymous, however, I do prefer to know which students think what. This helps me personalise learning.)
- What activities did you enjoy that helped you LEARN?
- What lessons did you LEARN from best?
- What homework did you complete that helped your LEARN?
- What activities/lessons/homework helped you recall/remember and apply knowledge/skills you LEARNT?
I make a point of reminding students that enjoyment is nice, useful and has its place, but the review questionnaire is about finding out how the students learn and what benefits them to learn. I do not go into specifics about topics and content. I do not ask whether they thought a particular poem, or religious theory was to their taste, but more about whether they learnt the knowledge and skills needed that should have been elicited from those topics.
Look back through the answers, take them in and prepare a summary of your students responses. Show this to your class in their next lesson. Act upon their suggestions (within reason), and show them that you are adapting to their perceived needs. (Obviously, you are the teacher and should know what works, ideally!)
Make the change obvious to your students. This prevents any students being uncomfortable with the unknown. Think about your autistic students…
As a result of… we will now be…so that you can…
Superficial changes help too. De-clutter, re-organise and update your classroom and those displays boards. Don’t wait until July to update/upgrade and do better, or something different. Share this attitude with your students. You do not need to wait until a particular section of a calendar. Show your students that all old slates are wiped clean and you will build a new relationship if need be. Use the new date to start a new time with your students. Thank and commend those who have always behaved well, worked hard and been punctual. Tell them you appreciate it, but expect it too. Remind them this should continue.
Get students to start a fresh double page in books, fresh red/amber/green checklists… fresh detention count? Remember, DO NOT forget to recognise all those that haven’t needed a fresh start.
Attitude and language. How important are these?
‘Can’t stop, I am so busy.’
‘I don’t even have a minute to have lunch.’
‘I am so tired.’
Consider: Being busy all the time, actually makes you ineffective? Is what you are doing productive? Smart? Helpful? If so, to who? Working beyond an acceptable amount, will/can make you resentful? It may make you hate your job? Therefore, have a knock on effect in your classroom.
Reflect: Do students have time to speak with you? As a person? Do they have time to engage with you about your subject aside from what is required to be known for their examination? Then, maybe, a change is needed.
Can you set up something extra curricular to help you engage with the love of your subject/teaching and children again? This year, I am taking on the Magistrates’ Mock Trial Competition again. Working with students outside of my ‘general’ responsibility and remembering why I love teaching!
Remember most workaholics will argue they just care way more than others and want to do whatever they are, simply for their students? However, unless you find that intangible, imaginative workalike balance, change may never be able to be instilled.
Change your thinking, your attitude and your behaviour otherwise your habits and your daily actions will continue to outweigh any feelings of change you may want.
I am Muslim and every year, I fast for 30 days as part of one of the five pillars of Islam- Sawm. There is a reason we fast for 30 days. Many theories support doing something for as little as 21-30 days can help create sustainable habits. Therefore, when fasting, food isn’t the only thing we give up!
So, set yourself 30 days as a minimum mark to embed a change. Do not worry if you are re-routed. Evaluate and persevere. Ask your students to get involved with this? If you have a tutor group, maybe you can all have a challenge together? A project?
Think marginal gains…
Short term- quick wins? Medium term or long term plans?
Making yourself accountable to changes is extremely powerful. It may be via Facebook, Twitter or your colleagues at work. Tell others what you are aiming to achieve and how. This doesn’t mean a daily status, tweet or update. Although, this may help!
Being accountable for your promises is glaringly different to making announcements. Having a support network to guide, re-route and support will help any changes that you are trying to make stay on course.
To summarise, in order to make a change, the resources (your teaching methods) you use to provide inputs and activities (your lessons/extra curricular) to your students need amending to create better outcomes (grades/better young people), and therefore a larger impact. (Job satisfaction.)
The only way to realise positive change in your life is by making choices.