When I started teaching I was thrown in the deep end. I was immediately given my own classes and my own form class. I have made a lot of mistakes along the way but more importantly I have learnt from them. If there were 5 lessons I wish I could teach myself when I started teaching it would be these:
#1 Seating plans
OK I realise this one is pretty common and you have been told by lots of people to do it but do you actually use them effectively? I know when I started teaching I would only have them in a seating plan when I was being observed or if I was having issues with some of the students. Having a seating plan and sticking to it helps to build really strong routines in the class. Although students may put up a fuss at first, I promise they will adapt and be better off for it in the long run. One of my favourite ways to seat students is based on their most recent assessment data. Students scoring below expectations at the very front and from there students are sat based on their score. This adds a bit of competition and I find students tend not to under-perform twice in a row!
#2 Positivity breads positivity
‘John please get your book out and write the title’, ‘George it is time to be quiet now and get on with the work’, ‘Max you should be sticking your sheet in your book’. If this currently sounds like one of your lessons I promise you are not alone! But have you ever thought about focussing on the positives in your class rather than the negatives? More often than not some students will be doing whatever the original instruction was. Rather than put the majority of your attention on the students that aren’t doing what they are supposed to, try putting it on the students that are. By rewarding and praising the students that are doing the task set out for them, I can almost guarantee the other students will realise what they are doing wrong and correct their own behaviour.
#3 There is always too much work to do
Teaching is not for the perfectionist. There is always something else you could be doing. Whether that is spending more time giving reflective feedback or planning that extra special lesson with differentiated resources for everyone. The sooner you accept that a teacher’s work is never done, the better off you will be.
#4 Communicate with parents about everything
Communicating with parents is one of the biggest weapons in a teacher’s arsenal. Students are usually not keen on their parents finding out about their poor work ethic. But have you tried communicating to parents about other school related issues as well? Emailing parents about positive behaviour is even more powerful than negative and the parents will really appreciate it. Also just emailing parents about dates of tests and where to find resources helps to keep strong relationship between work and home.
#5 There is no perfect teacher
One of the most amazing things about being a teacher is the individuality of it. There is no one personality of teacher that works better than others. Find what works for you and then just adapt it. Trying to copy someone else’s personality is impossible. Look for techniques that other people use and try to incorporate them into your own unique style.
Anything you know now that you wish you had known earlier? Let me know in the comments 🙂