As some of you might be aware, I have been out of teaching for two long but enormously satisfying years. I have been taking on the privilege of being a stay-at-home dad to my baby son and his older sister whilst my wife continues on her quest to becoming an obstetrician. This has included taking over all aspects of home and child rearing whilst my wife completed her rural rotation and endless night shifts. Although I was already a “hands on” father, two years making my children the sole focus of my life has proved extremely rewarding and quite useful as I prepare to go back to recommence teaching at the end of the month.
I have always loved my job and even though I’ve had a great time being a stay-at-home father, returning to the classroom has me bursting with excitement. I know there will be cobwebs to negotiate and things have changed in the last 2 years (since when did everyone have to have an iPad?), but I have an urge to come back as a better teacher than the one I was when I took leave.
These are some of my initiatives in the lead up to day 1 and throughout the calender year:
1. If they Wont Buy it For Me, I’ll Get it Myself – Every teacher buys stuff for their classroom. You just can’t avoid it. But, there are times after proposing a valuable resource and you get turned down by your school that you give up the idea altogether. There is no way my school would invest in hand held whiteboards for each student. I love them and will find so many great uses for them along the way. I can’t really afford a class set, but that’s not going to stop me this year.
2. Lose Weight – Two years of sandwiches has taken its toll. I’ve got 5 kilos to lose in a month. I’m not sure that’s possible, but it can’t hurt to try. Many people think that teaching is not a physical job. Boy are they wrong! To be at my best, I must be able to withstand the stress, exertion and sleep deprivation that this job demands. For me, it means I can’t get away with starting off the school year looking like the Duff blimp.
3. No More Worksheets! – I don’t like worksheets and have made an effort to avoid them at all costs, but the lazy voice in my head sometimes prevails. It also doesn’t help that the teacher resources handed to you at the beginning of the year features nothing but worksheet laden books. Where are the dice, playing cards, tokens and imitation money? I don’t want to subject my students to worksheets unless I simply have no choice.
4. No Yelling – I never yell at individuals and my students will tell their parents that I never yell at all. I wish they were right. I have on more than enough occasions yelled at the class as a whole for reasons such as disrespect towards each other or for treating a substitute or specialist teacher in an unbecoming manner. I have to try to get my messages across without screaming at them.
5. Develop My Students as People, Not Simply as Learners – Up until now I have approached teaching with 2 main objectives. Firstly to increase the self esteem of each individual by instilling a sense of cohesion in the group and empowering every individual. And secondly, to foster a love of learning by making my lessons engaging and relevant to the learner. This year I want to add a third plank. I want to help prepare my students for the real world by helping them to develop “real world” skills such as working within a budget, developing a stronger work ethic and having better organisation skills. I think I’ve dropped the ball a bit in that area and I sincerely wish to improve.
I’m sure that along the way I will have more to add to the list, but it’s a good start. Now to get those pounds off. Oh well, quinoa can’t be that bad, can it?