Session 266: Back to School

Thursday 20th August 2015

On Thursday (20th August) ?#?ukedchat? was hosted by @Gary_S_King with a ‘Back to School’ theme


With the summer holiday already at an end to teaching colleagues in Scotland and the September return looming for teachers across the rest of the country, this #UKEdChat session aimed at helping ease ourselves ready for a new school year. The session asked the following questions:

  1. What classroom preparation jobs do you still need to do at school before the students return?
  2. What are your professional development priorities for this school year? What are you hoping to achieve?
  3. What new teaching strategies/pedagogical approaches do you hope to explore in the new school year?
  4. What do you see as the biggest challenge/struggle in the next year, and how will you overcome it?
  5. What are you favourite activities for the first day/week back at school?
  6. How do you intend to keep motivated/focussed amidst the changes and expectations in schools?


Ahead of the new academic year, a chance to share ideas and thoughts around going back to school. From physical considerations such as classroom layout, displays etc… to strategic thinking, professional development opportunities and challenges we may face.

With minds starting to focus on the return to school, the first question asked about the preparation jobs that teachers still need to do before being faced with the influx of students.

Seating Plans appeared to be a frequent answer among many respondents, but other jobs that need to be done included (in alphabetical order!):

  • Backing paper onto boards
  • Buy new stationary
  • Clean the mould out of my coffee mug
  • Complete new displays in classroom
  • Continue to prepare for new a level
  • Discuss strategies with my team (LSAS) for managing behaviour
  • Displays
  • Dreaded drawer labels!
  • Key-school-notices
  • New bs a level curriculum
  • NPQML is still lurking on the to-do list!
  • Print off “My name is… …and I’m a Mathematician” name labels for all my classes!
  • Results analysis
  • Return my library books
  • Sharpen my pencils
  • Sort out all students communication aids
  • Sorting ks3 books into new groups

But this tweet caught quite a bit of attention:


A few people asked about the sort of note that is written. The response: “I love thinking about each Teacher and what they have given, why I hired them, personal milestones, inside jokes etc

Next, the session asked, “What are your professional development priorities for this school year?” What are you hoping to achieve?” Ann Marie O’Brien commented that she wants, “To become more critically reflective in order to achieve increased self-awareness and improve my practice”, and quite a few are completing their NPQML and also starting the NPQSL, as they try to progress in their career. The Hectic Teacher declared that she wants to continue with the, “development of using class blogs to facilitate flipped learning in A Level Sociology”, whereas Lauren Kearney stressed that she, “just want(s) to focus on planning, teaching and marking, tbh.” Oh, and Assessment without Levels reared its ugly head! We’ll say no more on that, for now! Question 3 asked, “What new teaching strategies/pedagogical approaches do you hope to explore in the new school year?” Some responses included:

  • Use of think dice for questions & new digital tools, I hope to engage students through use of Twitter & blogs (via Ann Marie O’Brien)
  • More student autonomy and collaboration. Guiding student choice and enabling more student voice. (via Brie Gray)
  • Spaced and interleaved learning (via Rebecca Foster)
  • Use of silent coaching to encourage reflection & growth mindset. You can’t do it yet! (via Miss Othacehe)
  • Big push for project based learning. & implementing/sharing new #tlap ideas. (via Joe White)
  • Focusing on blending DIRT time more effectively. Purple Pen of Power & peer/self assessment. And independence!! (via Dan Clawson)
  • Integration of reading into all curriculum areas. Openess as to what might work for which students (via Daniel Harvey)

A new school year can be beset with challenges and struggles, so the session progressed to explore these. Looming inspections, building resilience and challenging Fixed Mindsets were common themes, but “Learning new curriculum, trying new things, encouraging other teachers to integrate progressive ideas”, was also added by Brie Gray. The evolving curriculum, along with ensuring resources are in place will continue to be an issue for many during the next school year.

The session progressed to explore activities which could be used during the first day, or week, back at school, once the pupils are back – the team-building and ‘getting to know you’ activities with classes. A few select ideas:

  • Diamond nine of ‘What makes a great leader?’ and chn to decide their leadership roles in classroom community. Love a diamond 9! (via Miss Othacehe)
  • establishing a community together: creating a “contract” and defining expectations as a group (via Brie Gray)
  • Answering 4 Qs the 1st lesson: who am I? who are you? what is it we won’t be doing this semester? And … what will we then do? (via Nico Van den Abeele)
  • 3 min challenge to introduce growth mindset, this yr its Rubik cubes (via The Hectic Teacher)
  • A plenary that makes your lesson look like the [back] side of a bus (via John Mitchell)
  • I like getting students to draw what a good teacher and student look like – interesting stimulus for discussing expectations (via Rebecca Foster)
  • Launch the ‘Millionaire’s Club’! and story night (bring in pjs,sleeping bag – have books & choc ready) (via Miss Othacehe)
  • I Am Poems – students given a template I am, I say, I hear, I feel, I fear, I know, I think, I hide, I love, I am.. (via Miss Row @ LCA)

Finally, the session explore how teachers  intend to keep motivated/focussed amidst the changes and expectations in schools? Miss Othacehe declared, “Focus on my vision for the future of the pupils in my realm of influence – what do I want for them now and in 10 years?”, and Mr A sensibly advised, “Try to find the smallest dose of humour in all difficult challenges. It’s all that keeps me sane at times.” We conclude with the Tweet of the week, via Phil Ruse:


We have summarised just a few of the hundreds of fantastic tweets that were shared during the session.

We have archived images and ideas shared during the session, along with the full Storify archive on the next page (Click here to view).

You need to or Register to bookmark/favorite this content.

About UKEdChat Editorial 3187 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.