Back to school – new or a repeat performance

It would appear that the most popular topic within all education blogs this week is ‘back to school’. We are awash with the offers on Asda’s children clothing and the essential range from Staples and WHSmiths and Facebook is full with last day comments and the excitement of a new term. I felt that I couldn’t let the opportunity go by without adding my own views to the numerous posts. So this week’s waffle is all about going back to school!

Going back to school! (Image from )

Going back to school! (Image from pixabay.com)

Last week’s waffle was all about starting the new adventure which is university. Although many blog posts comment about the back to school ‘blues’ I must admit I was one of those people who were always ready to get back into the routine of the classroom and keen to implement all the ideas and theories I had been reading about and developing throughout the summer break. Each year brings a new class and a new set of challenge from the children, school and curriculum. So I wanted to waffle three things which I think are important either for people new to the profession or for those of use for who have been doing this for a while.

Smile before Christmas!!

Smile before Christmas!!

  • Smile before Christmas – When I started to teach I remember quite clearly a number of experienced teachers telling me that if I smiled before Christmas then I will have lost them. To my disbelief, I must admit that this might have been something that I subscribed to early on in my career although my approach to behaviour management has changed significantly. As I have developed as a practitioner, I no longer subscribe to this no smiling rule. It relates to the idea of maintaining effective behaviour management within your class and I would say that a much better way of achieving this and maintaining it is to establish clear expectations at the start of the year and being consistent – it really has nothing to do with smiling. So I would definitely encourage yourself to smile. Smile at the start of every day and smile at the end. Smile when the children arrive and smile when you are meeting new parents and members of staff. As well as making yourself approachable to everyone, it will also make you feel better.

  • “…remember that there is something you need to say to the children on your first day back with them.”

  • Have confidence in your teaching style – Everyone has their own style of teaching. I talked about this in my waffle about technology. Many of you will be starting your teaching career after spending your training experiencing a range of different teaching styles and approaches. You will now have formed your own. Everyone teaches differently but the main focus of any approach is the children and their learning and development. You might come across some people who will tell you that you are doing things wrong or that there is an ‘easier’ way. They might even recommend that you do not ‘bother’ with somethings that you believe in. Although you will of course consider this points (see the next part of this waffle) have confidence in your own style and ability to teach. Just because someone teaches differently to you does not mean they are right and you are wrong.

  • Reflect, but not too critically – If you are about to start your first teaching post then you will be very familiar with the process of reflective practice. As practitioners I think that reflection is an essential part of our jobs and one which we all do quite naturally. However, if anything we are always far too critical about ourselves when completing this process. I am not suggesting that we should stop being reflective, I am just suggesting that sometimes we must accept that lessons go wrong because of a number of factors which are actually out of our control. Within higher education I often teach the same session content to different groups. The number of times the first session has not been my best teaching and I have changed it for the second group, only to find that that has also not been the best. Then, reverting back to my original plan with the third group has proved the most successful. What I am trying to say is that sometimes things just go wrong – have a think about it, change what you consider to be the problem, but don’t be too critical on yourself. Sometimes it is something that is completely out of our control which we can not influence at all – maybe even the weather!

  • I’ve tweeted a number of articles this week which have reminded us on the important points of making time for ourselves, eating properly and having a good night sleep. I think we all know these and, although we will start of with these all firmly in place, I am sure, like me, we will soon let these lapse. No-one likes going back to work after a holiday although I think it is because we leave behind the freedom of time to return to a structured routine which we are not in control of. This is natural. But remember, we are returning to a profession which we all enjoy so although we might all be experiencing that sense of ‘return’ I hope you do, like I do when the university students come back, have that feeling of excitement for a new year full of new experiences and challenges.

    If you are a regularly listener/reader of my waffles, you might remember a waffle about ‘End of Term Activities‘. If you did, remember that there is something you need to say to the children on your first day back with them. 🙂

    I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.

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    Have fun, and I’ll catch you later