Fact: Teachers never have enough time. How many times have you said, or heard colleagues declare that there are just not enough hours in the day? There is so much to cram into the typical school day for teachers: marking; assessment; meetings; planning, and that’s before you get the chance to actually teach, eat and sleep. Organisation of time is essential, so these five ways to get up to speed with your teaching life, adapted from Steve Cody, can help improve the teaching day:
1. Decide What’s Important
Prioritise, take a step back; I mean really step back and think about what is genuinely important in life and your job. Getting involved with other people’s ‘important’ agendas, insecurities, politics, power-games and priorities is worth acknowledging, but not worthy of stress. What is really important in your life? Make time for it. Stop. Reflect. Spend time with friends and family – that will give you a sense of perspective.
2. Observe and Experience
For teachers, you learn the most by watching and experiencing how others teach. Even if you think “I wouldn’t do it like that”, turn it into a positive and think deeply about how you would do it. If time does not give you the privilege to actually visit colleagues or other schools, read about the strategies other teachers adopt by exploring teaching blogs – embezzle but modify their ideas to suit your own teaching style and environment.
3. Span the Globe (Virtually)
It is possible to be inspired by other teachers in different countries. Many challenges of teaching are the same, and spending a bit of time to explore how these encounters are being dealt with may attribute you more time to improve your teaching practice.
4. Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer
It is not possible to get on with everyone in a school. They can be huge places, but taking time to see how other people cope with the lack of time can help you improve your time management skills. Many colleagues will be facing the same pressures, so act as a support, and don’t be scared to ask for support. No need to drown alone. As Edwin Louis Cole once said, “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there” Look for the steps.
5. Walk in Your Audience’s Shoes
The first four steps above will mean nothing if you show little awareness of the your students ever changing wants and needs. This means getting to a level that really empathises the challenges and struggles they face; not only with your subject, but outside the school walls as well. They are individuals, and want acknowledgement and respect for that FROM YOU. They are starting to make their way in life, and they need support, encouragement and care in this process, and a good teacher is pivotal in that role.
The above steps may look and sound simple, but they will certainly help keep you updated with your professional practice, showing that you are a good teacher, being true to yourself and your own values.