Having been M.I.A from the world of blogging for a couple of months and amusingly finding a blog today that I have been featured in, entitled, ‘Whatever happened to…’ (Cf. http://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/whatever-happened-to/) I feel that I should probably account for the past few months.
No, I have not been abducted by Credite Suisse. PWC have not come knocking and I have no desire to find out what a management consult is, let alone become one. I also haven’t been ejector-seated out of the classroom after facing the terrifying reality of the teaching profession in 2014. The reason for my absence is purely that I have been working, and when I haven’t been working I’ve been writing essays, reflections and review evidence. Unfortunately, all that reflection has made the prospect of blogging seem slightly less appealing. However, for posterity’s sake I do not want this chunk of my TF experience to pass undocumented, so I thought I would share a few things I have learned in my first term.
1. There will never be enough time
There are no neat to-do lists in the teaching profession. There will always be more work to mark, that display you’d like to put up, some reading you’d like to do and those resources you’d like to find. If you can do it in 5 minutes address it straight away but if you can’t, make sure you prioritise based on deadlines and impact. Allocate windows of time for different activities and stick to them. Remember that your priority is always feeling ready to teach.
2. Don’t spend unreasonable amounts of time on assignments
Give yourself a fixed number of days in which to write your assignments, preferably a few days during the holidays when you are feeling rested and your mind is clear. Help yourself by creating actions plans to breakdown components of the assignment into manageable chunks e.g. for WA2 teach plan your unit a month before the end of term, teach it the next week, collate your reflections, evaluations and evidence of pupil progress the next week and write it before Christmas. Don’t spend your whole holiday writing, it’s unlikely it will lift your grade that much, and you’re teaching will suffer if you don’t get a break, which, at the end of the day, is what it’s all about.
3. Never underestimate your capacity to cope
I am not going to downplay this year. It has definitely been one of the toughest of my life. As a teacher you will find yourself dealing with situations you could never have imagined yourself in, from a child projectile vomiting in your face to giving a statement to the police. Some of these moments will become amusing anecdotes for your friends and family, others will test the bounds of your comprehension. Whatever happens, you will need to get up and teach the next morning and this motivation will see you through even the worst days.
4. Find the people that motivate you
There will be so many days when you say to yourself (or your significant other) that you are an awful teacher. Find the teachers in your school who inspire you, use your non-contact time to watch them teach. It will always give you the lift you need to persevere and improve. Make an effort to go to events both in school and out and meet new people, even the ones with less than inspiring titles. The most valuable CPD you’ll get is through conversations with other teachers.