Looking for some back to school advice for the next term? Let me offer an opinion from 18 years of teaching – feel free to sift and sort what advice you like and which you think is nonsense. Hopefully amongst my listicle of advice you will find something to help you shape your new term.
Idea One: Pace yourself
This is a short term but it is an intense term. It is highly likely that a lot of the parents’ evenings are timetabled for this term and all the administration of preferences. Therefore, start slowly and don’t take on too much this term. The examinations might feel close and you might want to up the pressure on your exam classes – but neither you or your students will last the pace for five or six months.
Idea Two: Pay a lot of attention to Year 7, 8 and maybe even 9.
Soon you are going to be obsessed with Year 11 particularly. However, it is also likely that you are going to have to prepare Year 10 for exams and provide the senior team with progress data for both year groups. Therefore, Year 7 – 9 fall to the back of the line – probably from about April onwards. So, spend this time hammering the books of Year 7 – 9, using triple impact marking to get to know them and personalise the targets they need to focus on by the end of the year.
Idea Three: Your career…
Rarely do teachers put themselves first. However, teacher job adverts and teacher career progression begin in January. So, you need to come back to school with a plan for where you want to be in September. Do not put it to the bottom of the pile of priorities and think you have plenty of time. Time is different in schools and soon you will wake up in the Easter holidays. In no other profession does career progression fall below all other priorities.
Idea Four: Try to arrive or leave in the light at least a couple of times each week in January and February
This might seem a strange piece of advice and may not seem possible. However, S.A.D. (Seasonal Acquired Depression) is a real thing. It comes from not getting enough daylight. If you come and go to work in the dark, day in and day out, it is likely to cause you to feel additional fatigue, irritability and maybe even depression. So, take care of your mood and make extra efforts to get some sunlight in your life.
Four ideas, all focused on the teacher and the children and not the school. At some point, the school will demand lots from you and until this point you need to preserve yourself and your relationship with the students.