Here’s to Term One. We made it, everyone!
(Yes, okay, in one more week we’ve made it).
If you’re anything like me, this term has been fairly chaotic. Between undertaking assessments, madly trying to establish a positive class culture, correcting work, having parent-teacher chats, planning lessons and dodging flying cricket balls on yard duty, you might have even taught the odd lesson or two.
I seriously have no idea what has been happening…or what day it is now.
Yep, Term One is always a busy one. Every year I have a growing number people say to me that they feel they aren’t “getting through” as much they would like. However I want to share a slightly different perspective.
Chances are, you’re actually getting through WAY more learning than you even realised. WAY more learning of a different kind that we often forget about.
Students’ personal, social, thinking and creativity learning.
Every single day we have been investing heavily in establishing the routines, structures processes and expectations for the year ahead. Since the start of the year we have been investing huge amounts of energy building up the how in our classrooms, while also constantly explaining why we use and believe in these routines, structures and expectations.
(A quick side note – if you are finding a routine or expectation isn’t sticking or being upheld, stop and consider if you’ve clearly articulated why it is important or helps the class, and been consistent in the routine or expectation).
Here’s an example of the huge amount of learning we might not see or realise we’ve been teaching in our classrooms: during this term, my class has been getting a huge amount of learning around how we engage in conversations, what it means to actually listen (and proving it by paraphrasing the key points from a speaker/partner), being aware of our body language, monitoring our tone of voice and volume to certain situations, connecting and building on ideas, respectfully disagreeing with reasoning and building up their understanding of the concept of dignity by giving people the conditions we also need to learn.
Yep. That’s all been happening.
What’s even better? All of this seemingly invisible learning was developed and practised through ONE routine that teachers all over the world use every single day: Think, Pair, Share.
Every day all of those whole class, small group and individual discussions or activities are opportunities that help us create a culture of positive personal and social learning within our classrooms.
Term One is when we are heavily investing in these opportunities. So whilst you may not feel like your focus groups in reading, writing conferences in writing, targeted maths groups or differentiated…anything, isn’t happening the way you want, remember to stop and think about what you are achieving.
Every single little opportunity you use to shape the personal and social learning within your classroom, as well as the mindset your class have in their thinking and creativity adds up. The sum of all of these little opportunities can be huge…a belief in lifelong learning and discovering.
We all agree? Yep. It’s important.
Whilst your class may be playing a maths game focused on rounding and adding decimals, they might also be focusing on everyone in the group upholding the agreed rules. While stopping to have a quick pause and discuss maths strategies, asking the group how they are doing with upholding their rules and what is assisting the group with this also reminds them of the social learning they’re practising.
Or during a Writing session you might have students drafting up a recount. While drafting, chances are they are also building up personal organisational routines by choosing to check words in a thesaurus, or learning how to respond to peer feedback as they sit and have a friend read aloud their piece.
Suddenly, our lessons aren’t just about delivering content from Maths, English, Science, Humanities or The Arts. They’re also about giving our kids the skills and ability to be effective learners and contributors in whatever learning they choose to engage in.
You’ve been doing all that. Yep, you.
That’s a HUGE amount of learning to be instigated and created in your classroom.
Yes, your targeted and differentiated groups may not be perfect, but know you’re creating the best kind of conditions to help the kids in your class be successful, even when you’re not around.
That’s what a successful teacher can do.
So, here’s to Term One, one full of so much amazing learning and teaching, led by you.
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What’s your time in Term One been like? Why not share it here or on our Facebook Group to help more of us out?!