Recently quite a few bloggers have been writing to their younger selves. Their intention is to impart some advice in order to tackle the challenges ahead. This is the first in a mini-series of posts related to getting ready for the new academic year. I’m hoping that some will find these tips useful. I’m starting with revisiting my toolkit. As I begin to get ready for my 9th year in the classroom, I’ve reflected upon the tools that are really useful to me on a day to day basis. There are also a few thrown in from a Curriculum Leader perspective that my NQT self at 24 years would have found useful. I’ve tried to add in a short explanation from a personal perspective.
The list is not exhaustive, and I’ve only included those that I use on pretty much a daily basis. Also bear in mind that my commute to work consists of a 45 minutes train journey with some walks on each side.
In no particular order:
A good friend and all round inspirational bod Ollie Bray passed on the following pearl of wisdom: ‘Life is too short for bad coffee.’ I’m not a coffee addict, but decent coffee is a morale booster! Instant coffee is not quite evil, but it’s just not the same.
Attitudes to blocking excellent sites that help learning is frustrating. This helps get around it, mainly when planning lessons in PPA time. Also very useful for clearing my work inbox during the morning commute – I rarely check school email outside of school.
Although I may move in digital worlds, I’m an analogue thinker. I like writing down stuff and plan lessons for the first time in long hand / random doodles / arrows. I like Moleskin notebooks as they have a handy pocket in the back and an elastic type fixy thing to stop stuff falling out.
My school bag is full of leads:
- Kensington PC remote – great for allowing me to be anywhere in the room and still control my school machine. I also love using a Mac, Keynote and the Keynote Remote for iPhone. I don’t have a teacher desk, and getting anywhere I like in the room allows subtle classroom management and ensures that I ‘own’ the space.
- Good quality headphones – Good for the commute and great for creating a little space to think in a noisy school when on PPA.
- VGA lead – and all sorts of stuff to ensure I can connect my technology with a projector and speakers – basically a little IT tool kit
- Chargers – for everything
- 4 way extension lead – you can never have enough power..
- Card Reader – very, very handy
I work with a great bunch of people. I try to get into the staff room as much as possible in order to share experiences – both good and bad. If you’re not careful, teaching can isolate the teacher. This sometimes means that a mindset develops where everything is going wrong / is your fault. Talking to people in the staff room, not working through every lunch and break time and having a laugh are important.
As a Curriculum Leader, looking after people are important. We hold meetings in cafe’s, tea rooms and the occasional pub. Productivity and creativity goes up. Teachers can leave a school and still be professional.
Finally, look after the following people: caretakers, reprographics technician, IT technicians, all Office staff, the Head’s PA, the Minibus trainer. It’s these people that make the school work and who are the most useful when you need help.
They will always be there for you when school is getting you down. Always support your mad cap schemes and always provide the tea, ale and malt. Don’t forget to take the time to maintain the relationships that you’ll need throughout your career.
Also have plans. Climb a mountain, go skiing, go running, zorb, jump off a cliff, cycle the length of Wales. Life really isn’t all about school or the classroom. Taking a break will result in more ideas, inspiration and opportunities for good ale.
Always have a Plan B for when things don’t go exactly right in the classroom.
I force myself to read for pleasure, even during term time. My reading rate may decline, but I read on the way home. This forces me to switch off and is a source for many lesson ideas.
Especially Evernote, Dropbox, calendar and Geocaching.
Connect with others
Read blogs. Connect through Twitter to other teachers. Learn. I wish that I knew that during my NQT year. Banter, support, laughs, ideas, motivation, recognition, banter……. You lot are great!
Also, if I had my time again, I would have this reflective blog from the start. It’s a great space to hammer out ideas and the process of writing, drafting and publishing is rather quite cleansing.
And last but not least, a sense of adventure, humour and some comfy shoes
What are your must have tools?