I was chuffed earlier this month when Joel asked me to write guest post for his edublog SYWTT. I was however also nervous. Joel has created an enviable web presence with SYWTT through an obvious passion for teaching, hard work and obvious dedication. I didn’t want to let him down.
The topic he suggested was ‘How To Make This Year The Best of Your Career’. Wow, I thought. A topic like that calls for an action plan. A list. So I have resorted to an old favourite of blog readers – the list article.
Many blog articles today feature a list. Do Lists. Don’t lists. They are attractive because they are so definitive. I think they are popular not only because they are easy to read or scan but also because they offer a clear path towards our goals or a solution for our problems.
My list is a list with a twist. Think of it as a checklist or a reappraisal form. It is a list I am going to follow myself.
- Change of Subject or Consolidate
I changed subjects this year from English to Multimedia. I was burnt out from heavy marking loads and bored with content I had spent a decade teaching. I needed a change. Multimedia provided that change without the need for me to quit teaching. Now I have a new teaching area, a new focal point for my energy and I am more motivated than ever. My year is shaping up nicely already. If you can’t change to another subject area perhaps changing to a different year level can switch things up enough to revitalise your teaching.
But what if you are happy with your subject area? Consolidate. Bed down your units and re-resource them. Teach them better than ever. It is almost impossible to teach a unit very well the first time. Each time we teach a unit we get better at it. We tweak our lessons and consider them from new angles. Our teaching experiences and subsequent reflection make us better at what we do second time around.
- Put My Hand Up or Just Say No
My school has a weekly session where we take a class of students for an activity. Most teachers sit back and wait to be told which activity they have to take. Then they complain about the activity and the behaviour of the students. This year I put up my hand and chose my own activity. I thought about it carefully and chose an activity that I liked. My interest was contagious and proved popular with students as well.
On the other hand teachers get saddled with an inn-ordinate array of jobs, all in addition to their core teaching. Sometimes we just need to say no. Some of my colleagues are very good at this without being rude. It is amazing how saying no can empower us to do our job better than ever.
- Enrich my Personal Time or Just Chill
I am a serial hobbyist. I always have a new interest on the go whether it be running, bonsai, or riding a motorcycle. These activities give me energy and a focus outside of my teaching. When I do go back to work I am refreshed and ready to tackle the day.
My wife on the other hand needs chill time. Whether it is reading, watching TV, or hanging out with friends she needs ‘down time’ to just chill. This approach recharges her batteries for teaching.
- Integrate or Refocus Your ICTs
ICTs are a great motivator in the classroom. Students respond to them very well and they can make your units more appealing. Even more importantly they help students learn and keep your teaching practice modern, relevant and up to date. I find ICTs reduce my workload and make my teaching more efficient. This saved time and energy can then be applied elsewhere in my job.
On the other hand if you are anything like me you already apply ICTs throughout your units. Perhaps too much so? This year I plan on reducing the number of ICTs I employ and spending more time developing a chosen few. This year I plan to focus on and develop my classroom Wiki more. Perhaps deeper use of ICTs can be more beneficial to me and my students than a cursory knowledge of many ICTs.
These four strategies, or options are going to make this year the best year of my career. I will be a better and more motivated teacher for my students. My personal life will be all the better for it too. I hope yours will be too.