2020, A New Year – Time to Reset
New Year. New term. New resolutions. A new start. January offers a time to reset. Take some time before the term begins to review the Autumn term; what has worked well; what has not worked well. You will have met your new groups of students and begun the process of getting to know them; know their idiosyncrasies as individuals and as groups. Take stock of what is going well and what is not.
Reflect on the successes of the Autumn term; reflect on what is not working so well. Ask yourself questions about these aspects of your practice to help understand why some things are working well and others not so well. Delving deeper into your practice can help you recognise its strengths and this knowledge may be helpful when developing an approach for the areas you want to work on.
Once you have gained insight into your practice, you can then decide how best to act. Perhaps you identify something that you can address yourself directly, perhaps it is something that needs the support of your teaching team and/or manager. It may be something that is common across the teaching team, so could be addressed collaboratively. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you do it, and do not give up if at first your plan does seem successful. Changes, particularly behavioural changes, take time, so you need to stick with it for a while.
As part of your action plan, set a date to evaluate how well things are going as the new term progresses. Assess the impact of your action plan. Is it going to plan? What is working? What is not working? How could the initial plan be adapted given what you have learnt so far? Use this time as an opportunity to revise your action plan, celebrate achievements or just check-in with your practice.
Try something new
Try to challenge yourself, whether this is trying a new teaching approach, a new resource or just doing something differently like taking the lesson outside for example. Trying new ways to do what you normally do helps to keep your teaching fresh and exciting, for both you and your students.
It is often easier to focus what is not working well when reflecting, but it is really important to recognise the positives of your practice too. Reflection helps to understand yourself, as a teacher, as well increasing your knowledge of your professional practice. Understanding your strengths can help you when thinking about how best to approach what is not working so well. The New Year is the perfect point in the academic year to start afresh, establish new routines and boundaries, emphasise the positives and set clear expectations of what you are setting out to achieve with your students. Above all, use the start of new terms as check-points in the academic year to remind yourself what initially motivated you to teach and to hold on to your passion for teaching.