If I could go back in time and tell my newbie teacher self 10 things that I’ve learned about teaching over the last 3 years, I wouldn’t, because half the fun is in working it out for yourself, isn’t it? But this is what I might say if I did:
- Your colleagues are a top source of lesson activities and ideas. Make good use of them during input sessions and around school, and also of colleagues further afield on the interweb via blogs and whatnot. Thanks, colleagues!
- Students can do more than you think they can. Or than they think they can. Challenge, challenge, challenge! Pace the class for the best student but break it down for the slowest.
- Keep good resources and good ideas! (The raison d’etre of this blog.) Chuck everything else out. You won’t remember that you’ve got it anyway.
- Planning is often much quicker and better when talking it out with another person rather than trawling over a book with pen and paper. Something about talking it out makes you state your aims more clearly and build a lesson plan that makes sense.
- Try to limit yourself to an hour and a half planning time per day. Otherwise you’ll have no life.
- Giving talks at conferences is really fun. I learnt so much preparing my last one (Classroom Dynamics) and had a ball on the day. Getting recognised is funny: “Oh, I know you – you’re the chicken lady!”
- At the end of the year/term, write down the things you wish you’d done, and then do them the next year/term.
- Don’t be afraid of levels or ages you haven’t taught before. I LOVED teaching 5-6 year olds this year and also the 10-11 year olds. Just seek advice from a colleague, a blog or a book, and ask to get observed.
- Banish Spanish! It’s totally doable with all levels and ages. My 10-11 year olds got away with it all of the first term and then I started keeping the name of the last person to speak Spanish on the board (usually pointing to a crying stickman). At the end of the class, that person had to clean the board and lost a point for their team. I got this idea from this blog by Teresa Bestwick.
- Don’t work too hard in the summer, and don’t forget that if you go home, it takes a while to settle back in. Give yourself a break!
Here’s to the next three years! Have a great summer!