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Actually Useful Teaching Advice

January 14, 2021 in In the Classroom, Tips & Tricks - No Comments

Actually Useful Teaching Advice

January 14, 2021 in In the Classroom, Tips & Tricks - No Comments

Unsolicited advice time!

When was the last time someone gave you some advice, solicited or not. Probably today, or yesterday. It happen SO OFTEN without anyone being conciously aware they’re doing it.

Unfortunately, quite often that advice is utterly useless. But that’s a whole different post.

Today I wanted to share with you some feedback from our community. Specifically, individual pieces of advice that were actually useful!

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When you’re starting out and/or if you’re time poor, it’s better to do your planning at home and your marking at school. That way you have your colleagues on hand to help navigate your way through marking, and to do on-the-spot moderation.

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Don’t rush into content in the morning, do roll and date on the board etc and use these first 15 minutes of every day to observe each child in the class to see how they are feeling. This is when you see who is ready to learn, who will need support to start, who has had a bad morning and needs a chat or some TLC. Probably not applicable to high school but I do this every day!

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Write up your learning intention at the start of the class so the students are aware of how the lesson is going to go. Also, any time you can spend in another teacher’s class allows perspective. As a SLSO I have had the distinct advantage of seeing how every teacher in a school operates, and it makes it abundantly clear what works and what doesn’t. Seemingly, a lot is dependent upon personality. There is some stuff that particular teachers can do that would not work for others. But the more perspectives you can perceive, the better informed you will be.

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The kids can pick up on how organised/disorganised you are for a lesson and if you’re really organised then you will likely have less behaviour issues.

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Every day is different. So start each day fresh.

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When asking a student to do something say thank you instead of please 😅 works every time! E.g “Can you pick up that rubbish thank you”. Or “line up thank you”. Best bit of advice I got on my first day!

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I’m a chronic overworker, perfectionist, I struggle to maintain any sort of work life balance 😆 The best piece of advice I’ve been given is just because you can say yes, doesn’t mean you should. I know so many teachers have good and pure intentions and we want to help students develop into the the best version of themselves. This desire drives us to say yes to facilitating so many different activities and providing extra assistance for our students, but it’s also important to take a step back sometimes and preserve our own wellbeing.

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No matter how hard you work and the hours you put it, you will never be on top of things. Things will keep coming. Rest, spend time with family and friends. It is a marathon not a sprint!

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Have a work/life balance.

Always something to do, don’t burn yourself out.

Be flexible and open to new things. Most importantly enjoy everyday learning and growing with your students.

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Your students are not your friends. Maintain a friendly but professional distance.

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When you feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do and are getting anxious about it, make a list of what needs to be done for TOMORROW (not all the things you’d like to do AT SOME POINT). Then do those things. Then go home and have some time off. This was good advice given to me as a new teacher. Looking back I can see I spent too much time creating resources that just weren’t necessary as a new teacher. Now I get to enjoy resources I have made over the years, but I didn’t need them all my first year.

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Don’t treat your students from yesterday’s behavior

Start fresh it’s a new day

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Our principal gave us some really good advice that I’ve held on to. He told us we are constantly juggling in life. He said some balls are glass and some are plastic. You have to decide which balls are glass and which balls are plastic. The glass balls are ones you can’t drop and they include things like family and personal Heath. Then there’s your plastic balls, things like report cards, lesson plans etc. It’s up to each person what is made out of glass and plastic. What is glass to one person may be plastic to another person. Essentially the moral was you don’t have to have all the balls juggling at the same time if you need to drop something drop a plastic ball because you can pick it up later whereas a glass ball you may not.

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Set boundaries for personal wellbeing, e.g. ensure you have minimum one/two full days with no school work, leave school by…, turn off email notifications on phones, etc.

And clothing with pockets!

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It is ok to say no.

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Cheesy one but fake it until you make it. This is always in my head when having to deal with particularly bad behaviours in class.

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Take it one day at a time.

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Don’t be afraid to call in sick… if you push through it’ll never get better. And mental health days are a real thing. Take one if you need it.

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The most challenging young people will have the most significant growth if you believe in their abilities.

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Set a space at home for your work.

Set specific hours at home to do that if you MUST take it home.

Do not mix your relax space (couch, bed, dining room etc) with your work space or you will struggle to enjoy down time.

Set yourself time to detox from your day i.e. debrief your thoughts on your drive home or have 10-20 minutes once you get home to debrief then leave it at that.

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Every day is a fresh start, but keep a record of issues so you can track if there’s a pattern in behaviour that needs to be addressed.

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You’ll never finish what you want to finish. You’ll never get it perfect. Give yourself a break, all you can do is try your best and don’t forget to take care of yourself!

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You don’t see the class as they are, but as YOU are. Be kind to yourself and it will flow through to them. Especially if you’re dealing with your own hormonal/human challenges.

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Make your voice go deeper, not louder- got this one from a deputy principal while a prac year and it has stuck with me and 100% works!!

What actually useful advice have you received? Share it with us in the comments below!

 

Emily

Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys sharing the real and human teacher life, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine.

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