So…it begins…Term Two! I’ve just finished my first day and as knackering as it was, I really enjoyed being back in the classroom. Over the holidays, I read a fantastic blog over at Life Through a Mathematician’s Eyes about ten things that she had learned during her first term of teaching, so in a similar vein here are five new things I’ve learnt about teaching from last term.
1.) It is always better to go in early to do schoolwork than it is to stay behind late. I got this tip from another friend in the profession and although the prospect of dragging yourself out of bed any earlier than necessary may seem horrendous, it is not so bad once you’ve done it the first time. Keeping a sensible school/world balance has been very important to me, and this helps me do that because when four o’clock comes round, I know I am good to go home and relax.
2.) Observed lessons are nothing to fear! For more details, check out my earlier post, Ditching the Pass/Fail Mindset.
3.) Going through jotters is a legitimate joy. I absolutely adore going through my class’ jotters, whether it’s to mark an exercise or to just have a look at how they’re doing. This is especially true after a nightmare lesson when you’ve convinced yourself that they have learnt precisely zero – have a look through their jotters and you may be surprised at what’s in there!
4.) You should never label or attempt to predict what your classes will do on any given day. And this works both ways; I’ve had days where my ‘good’ class have driven me up the wall, and days where my ‘bad’ class have been the best class of the day. Children are children, they’re unpredictable beings and I’ve learnt to love that – it makes the job endlessly fascinating!
5.) This job is all about the learning. I’ve saved the best for last; my mentor told me this when I was beating myself up about being too hard on a difficult class because I was worried I was affecting our relationship. It has been my go-to lifeline ever since! As a teacher, your job is not there to be liked. You are there to teach, to make sure that your class is learning. So if you have to be strict to make learning happen, that’s what you need to do.Start a learning diary and at the end of each day, make a note of what you think your class have learnt that lesson. If it’s zero, then reflect and work out why then make a note of how you are going to make that better in the next lesson. It wasn’t the easiest bridge in the world to cross for me, because I want the kids to like me. But I’m glad I did because it now means my teaching is clearly focused on the learning, which is where it needs to be.