I don’t know about you, but when we enter the slightly chaotic world of classroom teaching, managing to stay on top of all the tasks, yard duties, admin and the real purpose we’re there (to shape/mould/lead/guide those legendary kids in front of us) can be intensely hard. Especially when we are having to do it all on our own, or feel like we are doing it on our own.
The pose I took up at some point each year during my first five years teaching. (Including the loss of shoes…)
Here’s a secret: no one can do it all on their own. Teaching and learning is a social purpose. We need groups and we need people around us…and having certain things in place throughout the year means that the intensity and chaos of school can be minimised
It must be said, because we spend all day working with people and kids/teenagers, there is always going to things out of our control – the chaos will always be there in some way. The purpose of this post is share a few things I have discovered throughout the the last ten years that have helped reduce the workload and maintain my sanity.
(Full disclosure: as a massive fan of teachstarter I constantly hounded them about how great their things were and if I could share some tips on their blog, which led to them giving me an ambassador membership…so I guess the section about them is a sponsored post, but I’ll only ever promote something if it is worthwhile and actually useable in a classroom)
Be That Person Sharing Your Ideas
Even when I started writing this it sounded ridiculous…but, we need to actually share our ideas. If you are wanting others to share ideas, you need to start by sharing your own! Get the discussion happening and start modelling to your team that you believe in sharing with others. When you first start this up, think about the exact people or person you want to share things with. Start small and build from there. As others start to hear and see the benefits of sharing (especially when it benefits their students) they won’t be able to help themselves but get involved…which leads to more sharing, receiving, helpfulness and collaboration.
Wooo – yeah, sharing and collaboration! Yeah!
A quick side note, if you are like me and have the potential to get really gung ho with ideas, be aware if you start too big it can scare people off or leave you feeling frustrated that you are doing all the sharing. Learn from my mistakes, start small, choose a person you already gel with who is into teaching and sharing like you. Get chatting and sharing, then watch as that practice grows and grows.
Use This New Fandangled Things Called Websites
Embrace and use amazing websites like teachstarter. I only ever name a website or place if they are actually worthwhile. For any teacher, it is a brilliant home of free and paid resources that can help you reduce time spent thinking of, and making, resources.
The key is not to go too crazy with websites…yes, there are literally billions out there, but find a couple you know are good and go with them. Otherwise you just get sucked into the black hole or not actually doing anything but scrolling.
I just can’t stop looking…even though I know it’ll kill me.
If you know you’ve got certain units of work coming up and need to find some nice looking, well thought out resources, check them out. Then enjoy some free time – you’ve earned it, you savvy teacher, you!
As the year continues and your team starts to share their go-to websites, you’ll find you will all have a great bank of worthwhile resources to utilise throughout the year. Remember, it can be easy to try and take too much on. If you’re feeling under the pump just write down a recommendation somewhere you will see it again and check it out when you’ve got some downtime
Don’t Use Or Try To Find EVERY Resource
Yes, teachers LOVE feeling like we have found a thousand different activities to use throughout a unit of learning. While setting up my classroom during this last week I came across a HUGE container full of phonics activities and game boards…that I hadn’t every really used. Know what you are looking for and how it will help your class, check the resource actually connects with your purpose (and isn’t just pretty) and then go nuts using it.
Oh God! I just found another cupboard in here full of boardgames I’ve never used…
Yes, at some point you will feel pressure to create a million different activities. But it’s better to use two or three resources during a topic and concept incredibly well in the classroom, than sporadically bring out ten that no one really understands (including yourself). In the end, we actually want the kids using and assisting others by using the skills and resource…you know they’ve really understood the skill when they can correctly explain and model it to others. (Which is usually when a quick high five/fist pump/tap dance should happen).
We got this.
These discoveries are by no means all there is, it’s just a few things to think about at the beginning of the year. We’re all for sharing ideas to make things easier, what tips or advice would you add to this post? What is missing?
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