In less than two weeks, school will be back for teachers just as much as students. Fortunately, the experts from Education Perfect have some advice to make sure 2021 gets off on the right foot.
While many of us never want our summer holidays to end, the fact is that there are just under two weeks left. So (with the most positive mindset possible) this is the precise time for we teachers to get prepped for the new school year—and here are ten different ways we can do it.
1) Enjoy the break
You may have been doing that since just before Christmas, but it’s absolutely vital that you make the most of it. The impact of COVID-19 has been huge on teachers; there’s bound to be stressful times ahead in one form or another. The last couple of weeks of your break are important for your mental strength, stamina, and our ability to get the new school year off to a great start.
2) Prepare your lessons
Lesson planning is a vital part of delivering a curriculum. It makes it possible for you to effectively map out what’s going to be taught, giving your students enough time to learn, whilst leaving enough room for revision. Because things can change in at the last minute, it’s good to create a few emergency lessons in your OLPs in case of sudden school/class shutdowns, or even your own absence. “The greatest thing that you can do for yourself in the lead up to that first day back ensures that you are as prepared as you can be,” says Kelly Hollis, Global Head of Science for Education Perfect (EP). “Remember that a new school year is a new opportunity to start fresh. You are going to get a brand new bunch of students that you can help mould into amazing young adults.”
3) Know what the first day will be like
Ice-breaking activities will put everyone at ease, so maybe prepare in advance for these so your school year can get off on the right note. Some great examples can be found online. Erini Limnatites, Head of Australian English & Teacher Consultant at Education Perfect also suggests that knowing what stress prevention measures are available to you will be good for your long term mental health. “Identify periods during the term where you could take a mental health day,” she says. “It’s important to have time to pause among all the madness.”
4) Re-ignite your subject passion
“Why do you love this subject?” asks Jimmy Bowens, EP’s Global Head of English. “List the most current developments relevant to your subject and link them to your curriculum plans. How is the world-changing through the lens of your subject? What will your students be able to do to impact the world in positive ways once you equip them with these subject skills? Building a ‘Passion Portfolio’ as a teacher is critical to ensure you can sustain mental well being and a sense of authenticity in what you are doing.”
There are plenty of websites that will provide you with resources to help prepare, such as Scholastic Teachables, the more academic Journal of Teacher Education, or the very aptly named Teacher Magazine.
5) Get to know your students as well as you can
Jimmy Bowens believes forming a line of inquiry into your students as individuals can be a part of your teaching, as well as something you do for your teaching moving forward.
“Who are they really? What is their background, family dynamic, culture, history? What drives them, excites them and motivates them?” he asks. “Building authentic, meaningful and well-informed relationships with your students from the start of the year will create a resonating trust for the remainder of the year.”
6) Organise some social time with your colleagues
The people you work with are people, too. You’ll spend up to a third of your life with them, so it’s important you see that there’s more than just a colleague. With various strategies and mechanisms on hand, they can provide invaluable advice and support, and know just what kind of issues you may be facing.
Erini Limnatities thinks this is vital. “Once you have your timetable, look for periods during the week so you can grab a coffee or sit down with colleagues,” she says. “Forging strong relationships with your colleagues can really improve your sense of morale.” Kelly Hollis agrees. “Try to surround yourself with positive people who are going to help lift your mood and make your day brighter,” she says.
7) Set up the room
You may have limited space or limited storage capacity, so it’s important that you make the most of it. The first rule of the Marie Kondo method is to discard. There’s no need to keep tests and worksheets for novels you haven’t taught in years. Clear your shelves of those books you haven’t used. Put excess paper in the recycling, and give excess books to the school library.
8) Make it real!
Connecting with your school community and discovering opportunities for your students to apply their learning to their immediate surroundings is vital, according to Jimmy Bowens. “One of the most powerful learning motivators is ‘purpose’,” he says. “If you can present real-life change opportunities for your students in their communities they will find self-confidence through purposeful action.” He says these can range from awareness-raising writing projects to actual supervised volunteering work related to curriculum activities. “Reach out to people in the community and get to know them so as the year unfolds, along with the opportunities to make a difference.”
9) Cook some freezer meals
Teaching can be very time-consuming. This kind of role can easily lead to losing time for the simple things in life, like eating well. Doing some meal prep during the school holidays (or, once the term begins, on weekends) is an effective way to reduce the amount of money you’ll spend on Uber Eats and save a poultice in landfill as well. Recipes that freeze well include stews, casseroles, curries and spaghetti sauces.
10) Reflect on the year that was 2020
Enough has been written about the difficult year we’ve just had, but it’s important that educators reflect on 2020 in a different way, in the knowledge that it was achieved with great success, despite great challenges and obstacles.
Keep in mind what happened, what the entire profession was forced to change, do and achieve at very short notice, and what it meant that so much was accomplished after the world got turned upside down. It’s been said that the worst is behind us, and we all hope it’s true.
But if you take nothing else away from the whole experience, know what was possible and what was achieved. Everything else from here seems like it’ll be easy by comparison.
More information about EP and its uses can be found by visiting the website, www.educationperfect.com.