Consistency is key?
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
I have now started at my third school in what is the start of my 8th year in teaching. There are many things I have learned and changed in this journey, but there are certain things that have still stayed the same and remained consistent.
Just to get a little context, all 3 experiences have been very different and my focus and development has changed depending on the situation.
1st school - The school lacked quality of space and had very minimal resources. My focus here was to be very creative with my lessons, especially with equipment, but also learn the IB from scratch, as well as learning the trade as a fresh teacher.
2nd school - The school had great facilities and ample resources. Complete opposite to my first school. However, my focus here was classroom management. The students were loud and did not have the right etiquette/discipline when it came to playing sports. As time went on, it got easier and majority met my expectations. My role as Director of Sports and Head of Department took all of my free time.
3rd school - I am only 2 months in to my new school but the vibe is great. Good facilities and resources and the students have the correct attitude towards lessons. However, my students lack confidence and developing their confidence will be my focus for the foreseeable future (I'll write a post about this soon).
When I started at my 3rd school and reflected over my experiences, it struck me with how many things have remained the same in my teaching practice. This is not because I am being stubborn. I have experimented with different methods but these are the methods that have worked for me and continue to do so.
1) Registers - I still use a paper register. I have tried using a computer/iPad, but for me, I like taking notes in my lessons, especially when it comes to tracking, assessments, and conversations with parents/students. A paper register is also easier for me when I am outside.
2) Countdowns - I still countdown from 10-1 or 5-1 when I need the class to settle or to get ready for the next activity. I don't like using the whistle and I naturally have a loud voice, so it doesn't tax my voice too much when I'm in a big space. I have seen other methods works but this works the best for me and my students.
3) Warm ups - Students start my lesson instantly with a warm up. I take the register whilst they are doing it, apart from the first few weeks when I don't know names. I very rarely do traditional warm ups. The ideal warm up for me is something where they are discovering or unpacking what we are going to do in the lesson. However, this is not always possible, so they sometimes do an activity that we did the previous lesson, so they are linking their learning.
4) Water break discussions - My activities are short and sweet. I break them up by allowing students to have a water break. They are usually given a question or are required to give feedback during this time. We have that discussion whilst drinking water and resting and then flow into the next activity.
5) Lesson plans - There are less details in my lesson plans these days compared to when I first started. When I first started, I had to learn new content, so writing them down helped me process that but as I get more experienced, I need less detail. However I still need to physically type up a lesson plan. My main reason is that no school or groups of students have been the same (although I can copy and paste most stuff). For example, I have to plan 80 minute lessons compared to 40 minutes from my previous school. I have worked with many teachers who do plan it (mentally) and still deliver excellent lessons. However for me, I work best by going through the process and referring back to the document throughout the unit. Also it gives me a chance to tinker with it for future use, where if I did it through memory, I would probably forget.
There are probably other things in my teaching that have remained constant that I have no realised. These are the main five I would say have stayed consistent in my teaching. It would be interesting to see if these would change in the future. I am always up for change and look for more effective way of doing things. However, right now, this is what works for me in my lessons.
It would be interesting to hear about what has remained consistent for other teachers, especially for those who are more experienced than me, or even to see what similarities/differences we have. This is what makes us unique as teachers and I think the most effective way is what works best for you and your students. Let me know what you think.