5 Goals for A Successful New School Year
For a lot of secondary school teachers in the U.K., September 2020 will be the first time we step back into school full-time since March. I don't know about you, but I am feeling extremely nervous about it. The government has put forward it's guidance for schools to ensure the safety of students and teachers alike. So there is no doubt that this new school year will be different.
This is the first time that I have started a new school year with so many unknowns. And I can tell you that it is very easy to worry about all the difficulties that it may bring. But I have learned that the emotions you put out as teacher is reflected back on to you by your students. Most of them have also been out of school since March and their feelings are probably the same as yours. 10-FOLD! They don't need the addition of your stress. So we need to make sure that we start the year with the correct mindset.
I have decided to not focus on the things I cannot control, but instead look to how I can turn this situation into a POSITIVE.
How to Stay Positive this School Year:
Engaging Science Lessons
At my school, teachers are assigned classrooms. Due to the nature of student bubbles, it is no longer a possibility. Rather than students coming to us every lesson, we will be going to them. This means that any lab-based work is a no-no. For majority of my lesson, I will not be able to access any science equipment or give any handouts. Which sucks. If you are in the same situation as me, it is time for you to really think about your lesson plans. What activities need replacing so that you can continue teach outside the beaker?
This will be by force... Not having a base classroom means that instead of students coming to me, I will be going to them. My school has three floors and I have lessons on. Every. Single. One! Sometimes even back to back. So I will be constantly on the move! Exercise improves your mood and mental wellbeing. Make sure that you find time to fit it in because it will relieve some of the stresses that this new school year will bring!
Celebrate Student Achievements:
Students have missed out on a lot of school time and there is a high chance that confidence in their own learning is at an all time low. The catch up for all the work missed during quarantine will be difficult. So make sure that you reward hard work and effort, no matter how small. If you are like me this year and don't have an assigned classroom, find new ways to display work. Get students involved in the praise and have them nominate the hardest worker.
I'm going to use this time to really help boost the confidence of my students. Due to social distancing, I won't be able to check book work during lesson time. Students will need to feel comfortable enough to share with the class. Therefore, I will be praising students that try, especially when they make mistakes!
Reinforce Good Behaviour:
Being out of school for this long means routines have been long forgotten! It has been a while since students have been in a room with 30 other people of the SAME AGE. Add this to their lack of confidence in their learning. There is bound to be some acting out. This is the time to call out good behaviour every time you see it. Reward students with:
positive phone calls home,
emails to their head of year.
Anything that lets the students know that their outstanding behaviour is appreciated. Do it! Make sure that you have also updated your classroom reward system, taking into account the changes that this new school year brings.
Create STEM Challenges
All extracurricular activities have been cancelled this autumn term. This means that there is no STEM club. For us STEM Leads, it's time to think outside the box! How can we socially distance, but still engage our students in the wonders of STEM? Once we have settled in to our new school routines, I plan on creating weekly STEM challenges that students can participate in. Those that are successful will be rewarded! I am also thinking of starting an online STEM project later into the term.
This year will be tough because we have been thrown into a situation that we never thought would happen. But it is really up to us to have a positive outlook on what this new school year will bring! Let me know what you will be doing to prepare for the new school year and how you plan to make this year as positive as possible!
Miss B xx