They say teaching is one of the toughest jobs to do. Add a pandemic into the mix and you’ve got a job that requires so much more than just showing children how to add two 4-digit numbers or exploring who Alexander the Great was. It feels very easy to think about the worries and negatives at the moment. I have been making a conscious effort to find the positives during this new term of teaching and thought I would share my what I’ve been doing this term to make things that little bit better.
A Fresh Start
‘The new normal‘. A phrase that we have heard so often. I’ve thought how this ‘new normal’ can work in my classes’ favour. How can we turn some of these new routines into positives? Let’s take handwashing for instance. Now I know…it eats into our lesson time. However, it has made me think about how I teach my children. For example, doing active activities or games during handwashing, whether this be through saying times tables, playing hangman, children quizzing each other when at the sink, saying the alphabet or counting, or even doing a movement activity whilst waiting to wash hands such as yoga, ‘copy me’ or a dance routine.
Doing Things Differently
With everything going on outside of school, I have been determined to work smarter this academic year. I’ve really considered how I can ensure the children enjoy their time at school, whilst hopefully learning, as well as reduce or at least manage my workload. One thing that has worked for me has been the use of drama and practising public speaking. My class have responded really well to the use of drama in science, history and geography. It has lead to them remembering more than I expected, as well as building their confidence when speaking in front of each other. It has been lovely to take photos and film the children smiling and talking about their learning, which we have then shared on our class blog. And on the plus side, has also meant less marking for me!
Making Time To Talk
I’ve made it a priority this term to give my class time to chat. Every morning I ask the children how they are and how they’re feeling (usually it’s ‘tired’). I make time during the day for us as a class to have a chat about something random or positive. Every Friday, we share good news and ‘anything to celebrate’. This can be from a family member’s birthday, to a funny story about a pet, to sharing something that they are proud of.
We have PSHE every week. In my school, we follow a fantastic scheme, but I’m not afraid to ditch this if something else crops up. I’ve made it my mission to ‘nip things in the bud‘ when necessary and ensure that the children understand that their actions have consequences. This has proven to be very successful and lead to my class feeling more confident to share how they are feeling as well as begin to deal with any friendship issues themselves.
For the children’s start of the day activity on a Thursday, they have a painting or piece of artwork to look at and answer questions, as well as share their opinions about the topic or theme (and it helps them practise their inference skills). Every Friday, the children have a positive quote as their start of the day activity, where they are asked to consider what the quote means and how they can apply it to their lives or the school day ahead.
Having activities where discussions are involved, or just having a small bit of time each day to chat has really helped to settle my class into the new term, build confidence in the quieter children and also encourage a positive classroom environment where the children aren’t afraid to share their views and opinions.
Games, Games and More Games!
I have always been one for using games and ‘brain breaks‘ during the day. Nearly every lesson in my class has a game or some form of challenge. For example, if the children are working in pairs in maths, one partner isn’t allowed to talk. In English, telling the children that they are the teachers and have to tell me what to write or edit (My class love being the teacher!). In topic, having a random question every 10 minutes with a ‘fastest hand up first’ element to check who has remembered the new learning, as well as a little bit of competition within the class. Just any extra element of fun can make all the difference during a lesson.
We may not actually do anything different on a Friday, but by simply using the term ‘Funday Friday‘, it has given my class a positive attitude to their learning. In the morning, many of my class say, ‘Yay! It’s Funday Friday!” with a big smile on their face.
In the afternoon, we rate the week out of 10, which is a quick and useful way to gage how the children feel that their week has gone and if there are any low ratings, I can talk to those children about their week if I feel it’s needed.
We will always have days where we are tired or it’s hard to find the positives. But there will be a positive in every day, not matter how small. Sometimes we have to make those positives happen, and what better way than through teaching! Keep smiling!