- Start afresh! It’s a new academic year with new hopes and new beginnings – a large part of your success this year will be based on your attitude towards this virtual engagement, and for that you need to be fresh and energised. So get plenty of exercise leading up to this D-Day (and thereafter), regulate the routine at home to plan healthy meals and ‘me-time’, use movies or sitcoms that make you laugh as the stress busters, and generally get your body relaxed for the the start (and follow this up every week). Be conscious of this lead – up and your sense of calm will enable you to leave the ‘tiredness’ of the year gone by and approach this year as a year of adventure. Just thinking like that will bring that spark into the action, and to be fair no one in the last 100 years has had to do this twice over, so in many ways you are an educational rockstar!
- Maintain a journal of all the things that you believe helped you succeed last year – what made your students turn on their cameras – willingly not because they had to, the moments when you laughed with your students or they shared a personal anecdote, when they submitted their homework on time and it was an exceptional piece of work …. this will help you remain motivated for the year ahead, and help you on those tough days (re-reading is great resource bank remember!). Also make a list of the things you wished you had done. This will ensure that you focus on its inclusion. Rule of thumb is – keep both these lists at 5 item listings, and revisit this every month with 5 more things. Keep building on this, so that you keep a track for yourself on what you are doing right and what is not working.
- Organised teachers have demonstrated a great deal of success as we analyse trends, less prone to fatigue and drudgery, and innovative with their ideas. This means plan ahead for the first month (and thereafter for every month), breaking it down to weeks and if you are teaching multiple grades then ensure you have folders and mind maps for each teaching role ready for the month. Graphic organisers for your own work will help you, and you can use the same in your classes to demonstrate expectations for the students, a check list for ‘what all needs to be included’ such as brain teasers, research, games, quiz times, case studies, handouts etc … ensure your classes are about fun, and humour and making it inviting for your students, so that there is an element of surprise for them when they turn up for classes
4. Important to plan your work house hold routines weekly in advance – use Sunday as the day of preparing some meal ingredients in advance, creating a schedule for what to prepare etc, ensuring your work desk at home has all the elements that you need, everything is updated and ready including connectivity; plan ur work clothes for the week in advance and label them so that you get an extra few minutes everyday for yourself, and can ‘breathe’
5. Exercise and meditation does do wonders for everyone and incorporating this in your routine will save you from those ‘despair’ moments … it does not have to be yoga in the traditional form – some find music as an outlet, some want to work out, some find read therapeutic and some like socialising … whatever works, ensure that it is followed to give you down time, and plan for this in advance please. Make time for it. Do not dismiss this and ensure that you are consistent. It helps regulate your moods, and creates a sense of happiness and contentment which is key to being a successful teacher
6. Set some realistic goals for yourself – if you are a last minute ‘doer’, expect yourself facing challenges as the world is evolving at a pace that is beyond control, so unless you make an effort to plan ahead, you will be caught out and stranded. Those you are meticulous in their planning, be prepared for some alterations and do not have a fixed mindset of achieving everything. Last year’s success stories have been based on the ability of the teachers to be flexible and ‘revise’ some targets depending on the children’s progress. Be aware, be open minded and let yourself be guided by what you see unfold and not simply what you had planned.
7. Know your students – It is a crime to walk into a classroom and simply start teaching without knowing your class dynamics. Their functional levels, their personality, their attitude, their moods and their style (and their family crisis if there is). And once you know your students through the initial ice breakers that you organise, you will be able to navigate their learning with a bit more ease and success. Keep this going and put a price on building a relationship, for which you need to know what they are like perhaps from peers, or parents in advance
8. Set up clear communication channels with your parents. You will have to build your relationships with them and to give them confidence and understand their challenges and needs, and best to work out in advance how you plan to communicate, when and how. This takes off a lot of pressure … so plan this prior to the start. Discuss this with the Management and your school leadership team and ensure that your rapport with parents is strong and focused on the student well being and learning progress.
9. While your Management and school leadership will ensure that you are motivated, a large part of being an inspirational teacher is self motivation. Find that book, or that Linkedln resource that inspires you, start joining groups that are available on social media who share useful links and videos, and bring in that positive perspective in your lives, follow people that lead by example and empower you with their ideas … your energy in that classroom will be dictated by your research prior and assign a day either before the week concludes or on weekends to build this momentum for yourselves. Prior to the start, you can invest time sensibly as you research this as you may not have time later
10. Find a ‘Buddy’ – someone who you can talk to about your challenges, or what inspires you, your struggles and your queries. This remains a very underestimated aspect of being a teacher – finding someone to bounce off ideas. Please identify this person now and set up a weekly ‘chat’ time to ‘vent’. Watch what a world of difference it makes to your delivery. This person must be someone from your school to ensure that confidential information is not compromised, and you remain ethical with what is being shared
In a nutshell, if you have taught in the virtual world, all of last year and you have not made mistakes, you have not learnt. Anyone who can admit to this, will now approach this new year with ‘experienced’ eyes and hands, and using this expertise, create that magic for the students. This is NOT a race to excellence but a road ahead with a lot of discovery, and innovation that will complete you as a teacher. You know your place as an educator already, make every month count, and start with baby steps!