June! Where has the year gone?! For some, it is nearly the end of another year, eager for the holidays to begin, to relax. For others, it marks the end of their NQT year, celebrations of survival and that relief to know you are now a fully-fledged teacher. Finally, there are those of you who are finishing your PGCE and will be joining the teaching world in September.
Whatever point you are in your teaching career, there will always have been moments of self-doubt. Latest figures show that 74 per cent of teachers have seriously thought about leaving the profession in the last 12 months. Why? Life balance. Pressure. Exhaustion. The list goes on.
But there’s got to be some good things left in teaching right?
Of course there is. For all of us, teaching has always been about the children. That feeling you get when Bobby finally knows his number bonds. When Sally gives you that piece of writing you’ve been waiting for all year. When Harry finally manages to talk confidently in front of others. Those halleluiah moments are why we do the job. That feeling of knowing you and your teaching have made an impact on that child. Those moments make it all worthwhile.
But how can we make sure that these moments outweigh the bad?
Here are some tips to surviving the teaching world:
1.Leave it at the office
Seems obvious but leave everything at school. Your laptop, books, negative emotions. We all complain about workload getting in the way of our life balance. Teaching is one of the of the only professions where leaving it at the office is seen as something to be ashamed of. Evenings and weekends taken up by the feeling that you should do more work. Seeing Facebook posts about other teachers working. We’ve all had that guilty feeling. But leaving everything at work will ensure that you grasp back that life balance you crave and most importantly, maintain and improve your health.
2. Find shortcuts
Do you really need to write everything you are going to say in a lesson plan? Do you always have to teach lessons that are highly resourced? Do you always have to write more than the child has done in their whole piece of work, just in feedback? The answer is no. Find out what works for you. Yes some schools have policies on these things and ridiculous expectations are set out. But for most schools, the importance is on ‘What are the children getting out of it?’ Prioritise! Some of my best lessons have had very little written in the planning, no resources and instead I have trusted in my teaching capability, and I have trusted in the reaction and progression of the children. Admittedly this comes with confidence but it is important to know, it is not humanely possible to do it all. Read The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook by Jim Smith, talks a lot of sense.
3. Believe in yourself
You are a good teacher, the school recognised that when they gave you a job. Just because your class aren’t getting something, doesn’t mean you’ve taught it wrong, it just means that for this group of children, you need to find a different way. We teach children to be resilient and to not give up on the first go, so go back, take a breather, and think about how you are going to tackle the problem. Be confident in your own abilities, follow your instinct.
4. We all make mistakes!
We are human, we are not perfect! We will not teach everything right first time. We won’t know how to deal with that difficult behaviour straight away. All outstanding teachers have made mistakes in the past to get to where they are now, so its ok if you do too. Just learn from it. Stop beating yourself up.
5. Ask for help
It is in our nature as teachers to struggle on, to not admit we’re finding something difficult, but it is vital for your career and your own sense of self to ask for help. It is not something to be ashamed of and actually, you’ll find that there are many people out there who want to both give and ask for advice, even those that have been teaching for years. Asking for help in the first instance will save you from the more severe results of not asking later on down the line.
6. Have fun!
With all the jobs we do, it’s easy to forget how fun working with children is. Join them! Sit at their table and do art with them. Crack a joke. Have moments of silliness. These moments will keep you sane, not only that though, they will improve your relationship with the children. Thus improving behaviour, improving learning attitude, improving progress.
Always remember to look after yourself first! And be awesome!
Thank you for reading-I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
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