As the School year (or years) progresses, as the work starts to pile up, as summer starts to seem like a lifetime ago we all get tired. Teachers are not quite yet super human, despite most of us trying our best to aim for that. I have gathered a selection of advice from better educators than me, that might help to put that spring back in your step. You may know some or all of these but, being reminded of them sometimes, never hurt any of us.
I will finish with a massively inspiring video at the end that every teacher should watch once in their life. It is from someone who whenever i start to feel drained and weary has a passion that is infectious. If you are already tired reading this I would suggest you skip to the bottom and watch it if you do nothing else on my site today.
Despite my, and I am sure most of your protestations, Education does move on. No matter what subject you teach. Technology advances, books get written, wondrous things are discovered. Jsut because we have the title of teacher, doctor or professor and may be the font of all knowledge in our students eyes doesn’t mean that that font is full. Stay up to date with current events and thinking in your field and subject, roll the dice and try something new. The more you know and love your subject the more enthusiasm you can bring to your students who will feed off this energy, the more they will participate. The more this happens the more the relationship becomes symbiotic, there enthusiasm drives you to share more, and you sharing more drives their enthusiasm.
All teacher have lessons they consider to be gold, i have a few shared on here. However ”one mans meat is another mans poison” just because something works for one teacher doesn’t mean it works for all. Simple as this sounds it took me a while to realise this, both for my lessons and for others. However, try them, write your own, try something new. Your students will learn a great deal watching how you deal with error and struggle and its an opportunity not often addressed in our target and score based education systems. It also demonstrates confidence in ones ability both for the student and the teacher.
Depending, a little unfairly maybe, at what stage you are at with your teaching career or what your background/subject is you may have a reluctance to use technology in your classroom. Try to get over it, its not the answer to all of educations problems, there isn’t just one answer and i seriously doubt there ever will be, but even at its lowest form on the SAMR model ( link if needed) the substitution of a task with technology will create memories for your students. These students may not have access to this in their homes, depending where you are based. I have a few articles on how to use technology in the classroom if you wanted to know more. At its best level technology has the opportunity to redefine how and what we teach, and the articles on VR highlight some of this.
Remember you may be the reason some of the students actually come to school. Welcome differences inside the classroom, we all bring something to the table and in welcoming this you will add value to your students thoughts, feelings and opinions. That will build cohesion in the classroom, and of course its people disputes will happen so deal with them fairly, consistently and firmly. With the consistent and fair guidelines in place all students will have and hopefully feel they have a secure environment to achieve their potential.
Despite text books and some curriculum seemingly telling us different there is not one way to teach any subject. Go online, research other ways. You have in your class a whole host of learners who prefer different activities, from moving about, to listening, to making and talking. Mix it up across the year and watch how those in your class suddenly come to life as you discover how they want to learn. Once you know store the information and try it again. It doesn’t take too long to find out what kind of learners you have in your class.
Standardized testing has a danger of making education aim for the middle, just pass and then everything is OK. Couple this with curriculum that front load tasks (busy work) and students and for that matter teachers can fall into the trap that the minimum is acceptable, and i guess it is. However, encourage at all times, that your standards are higher, let your students come up with better not more numerous work, (where you can of course, i know the realities of working in school, i am doing so right now) If you can find a topic or subject that students, and you are passionate about then you can let them fly.
I almost wish there was a module at University for this, or at the very least there were compulsory refresher courses at the third, fifth or tenth year of teaching. I can’t talk about every education system of course, but in my little corner of the world it seems by accident or design that the joy de vivre is being systematically drained out of education. Its a running battle to avoid it happening at some points. As i mentioned though, you will be the reason that some of these students show up at school, and potentially the highlight of the week for others. How you approach your lessons will be how your students will approach your lessons. I can tell you from experience that your day goes much better if you are smiling through it. So paint it on, even on the rough days, and the students are likely to turn that day around.
Now, full disclosure, this is my weakest area. I struggle to be patient and to show tolerance but not with students at all, but with the system we sometimes find ourselves in, or those we work alongside who prehaps share different motivations to me. However, just because i lack skills in this area doesn’t mean its not important! Make an effort to get on with your colleagues, even on those days when its a real struggle, remember peoples motivations are different as are the problems they maybe facing.
Unless you live four steps from the school, and as nice as that sounds it really probably isn’t, then you will have a commute to get there and back. This means you have some time, to listen, watch or read some teaching blogs, websites, podcasts etc. (feel free to read some more of mine, but mine might be more of a journey home that a journey into work type read as i tend to lean towards the realism side of things). There are plenty, PLENTY of teachers offering advice and sharing stories and sometimes that is just the pill you need to get up, paint on the smile and go make the world a better place for just another day.
In the first paragraph of this post i suggested you skip down to the following video. If you didn’t and read though the other nine or so suggestions, thanks! that is unexpected!, hope they were useful. My reward to you, even if you skipped, is to offer you this video. I wont spoil it my doing my take, or putting it into my words. I think everyone who watches it will take something different from it. For me, when i watch it i just take joy from watching someone at the top of their game inspiring others to just be better. Rest in Peace Rita Pierson. You made me better.