Sunday, 8 June 2014

Hindsight, it's a wonderful thing.

This week finally saw the end of my training with my final assessment on Tuesday, I previously blogged about what that entailed.  With that over and done with I've taken the chance to think about all the things I would've done differently with hindsight, or more to the point the things that I am going to do differently from now on or from September.

1) Don't reinvent the wheel.  The first thing I've learned is something we've been told all year but that hasn't really taken effect until now. During training I've had to write up full lesson plans for all the lessons that I teach and so I've felt the need to really make them mine.  I've looked up ideas on the TES etc but only tended to use them for ideas.  My planning this weekend has been much much quicker because I've finally come to the realisation that I don't need to do all the work myself.  As long as I know what I want the students to learn then I can find resources that match what I'm looking for.  There is nothing to stop me adapting them, adding bits, removing bits etc but there is no need to do the whole thing from scratch.  I'm still putting in all the considerations I need to for AfL, differentiation etc but without needing to document this in minute detail on a plan that no one is going to read!

2) There actually is such a thing as being too organised.  You can't plan too far ahead of time, something will happen that is totally out of your control and it'll all go down the pan. There will be an assembly, students will be taken out of your lesson to revise for another, there will be an exam on, an interview candidate will be taking some of your lesson.  You name it, it'll happen.  Be organised and plan ahead but most importantly - go with the flow.  

3) Get into a routine with homework setting and book marking and stick to it.  This has been a tough one to start and stick with this year.  I only took up my classes gradually and by the time I had built up to my full timetable it was time to move onto my second placement.  I started back at my main school with great intentions, made myself a schedule of when I would set and mark homework.  It went out the window as quickly as it came.  With my training paperwork and essays to do it just wasn't possible to keep on top of it all and I'm making up for it now with a pile of books to get into.  I realise now that with the unpredictable nature of the training year with all the ups and downs this isn't surprising.  I'll start September with good intentions and hopefully stick to them!

4) Start as I mean to go on and set my expectations high.  No matter how much reading you do or how good your intentions are I don't think you can reasonably set high expectations from the beginning of the training year.  It's hard to do, especially when you begin by observing lessons then taking short sections before taking over the class yourself.  The class can be a bit confused with your role and why their teacher is sat at the back of the room.  You might want to do things slightly differently to the normal class teacher and this can be really hard to put in place.  When I returned to my school after my second placement I took over a totally new timetable from one teacher that had left on maternity leave.  I thought that this would be a good chance to start afresh and to an extent it was but I was still a trainee with a variety of adults in and out of my lessons.  In September I'll be in a new school where students don't see me as a trainee and the classes will be mine from day 1.

5) I'll never get to the end of a to-do list again, but that's ok.  It's as simple as that, I can make as many to-do lists as I want, and they're good, but I'll never get to the end of one again.  There are some tasks that will keep getting pushed to the bottom of the list as new priorities overtake, they'll get done eventually though.  I'm the sort of organisation freak that needs to be 110% on top of things but I realise now that in teaching - that's just not realistic!

6) Sometimes there are things that are just more important.  Does that job have to be done right now?  Will anything happen if I've not planned an extra day ahead? Will that class know that I had an awesome idea for that lesson that would've taken hours to plan but instead went for the quicker option that is just as effective? No, no and no.  So shut down the computer, put down the to-do list and do something else.  Take some time to myself, have a life, there is a balance to be struck between dedication and eating, sleeping, living and breathing teaching!

Can someone remind me about all this at the end of September?!

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