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Posts Tagged ‘Teacher’

10 Tips for Teachers on how to Improve Their Work/Life Balance

December 10, 2014

 

tired

For most of my working life I have been a full time teacher and primary caregiver for my dear children. The immense workload has forced me to become more organised and has necessitated a high level of routine. Still, striking a fair balance is a problem I have yet to conquer sufficiently.

My number one rule is to avoid doing any planning, marking or reporting while my children are awake. This does mean that I push those things off until very late at night, but it is important to me that my children have my undivided attention.

Here are some other tips courtesy of theguardian.com:

 

Give students word limits to ease marking

When I taught English I found it worked well sometimes to give pupils a word limit. If they couldn’t write at too great a length, they were far more selective and thoughtful about what they included, the quality of their writing went up and my marking load went down – a win-win situation. Also, writing succinctly and within constraints is a good life skill for students to have in the future.

Jill Berry is former headteacher of Dame Alice Harpur school in Bedford and an education consultant.

If you’re fit and healthy you’ll perform better in class

Things like having a hobby or making sure you get a good eight hours’ sleep a night can make the world of difference. What makes teaching unique is that teachers personally invest in their students and the success of their school, which can make it harder to switch off. But we strongly believe that healthier teachers can lead to higher marks. Abesenteeism is costly but presenteeism is also a growing problem. So don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. If you are fit and healthy – physically and mentally – you will be able to perform better in the classroom and do the best for your pupils.

– Julian Stanley is chief executive of the Teacher Support Network.

Think about when you work best

Think about the quality of time as well as the quantity available. About 20% of a working day is prime time and, used well, should produce 80% of your best work. The rest of your time will be nowhere near as productive, so it’s worth recognising which part of the day is best for you and maximising it to get something demanding done rather than flogging yourself when you’re tired.

– Sara Bubb works in the Department of Early Years and Primary Education at the Institute of Education.

Change your mindset

Stepping out of the “victim” mindset and being more assertive about what you can and can’t do, and will and won’t do, is one way of achieving a better work-life balance.

The only thing is, there is always something more you can do. You can always put a little bit more effort into supporting a child with special educational needs, trying to close the gap between boys and girls, or pupils on free school meals and others. There is no limit to what you can do and it’s probably that that prevents teachers from switching off after work.

– Agnieszka Karch is a research team leader at The Key for School Leaders.

Don’t take your work home with you

Work professional hours (I get to school at 7am and leave around 4.30pm) and if it’s not done within those hours it cannot be that important. Have a prioritised to-do list and stick with it. Planning for progress and providing feedback to the children should always be at the top of this list. This will lead to improved outcomes for pupils and if your results stack up then the powers-that-be will have nothing to throw at you.

Joe Durham is a qualified secondary teacher and co-founder of the Timemanagement4teachers website.

Make time to socialise

When we feel stressed, anxious or depressed we may shy away from social events. However, connecting with the people around you (your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours) and actively building these relationships/creating a support network is extremely important for your mental health.

– Nicola Kershaw is a mental health and wellbeing advocate working with a number of charities including Mind and Time to Change.

Support others and be supported

Work with the strengths of the people around you and actively seek support from them, if you need it. Actively give support too: someone needs to start a change of direction and you could be the one to do it.

Andrew Staples is a primary teacher working four days a week in school with targeted intervention groups across key stage 1 and 2.

Look at things mathematically

I often look at teacher workloads mathematically. In the US, we see a lot of folks complaining about paperwork because lots of our time is occupied by things that seem unrelated to what’s actually happening in our day-to-day. For example, why have all these meetings to talk about pedagogy when we could easily grade a set of papers so we don’t have to take them home?

Remarks about “spurious data entry and analysis” are critical too; we really have to start looking at what data matters and what information we glean from it. Unfortunately, that gets lost in trying to become data managers.

– José Luis Vilson is a maths teacher for a middle school in New York City.

If you’re struggling speak out

What’s most important is that all teachers feel confident to speak out if they feel overwhelmed. Don’t shy away from showing what you fear might be considered weakness and share your concerns with supportive leaders. We need to be at our best to make a difference.

– Oliver Beach is a 2012 Teach First ambassador and appeared in the BBC documentary Tough Young Teachers.

 

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Tips for Tackling the Mental Health Stigma in Your Classroom

December 3, 2014

depression

I must admit that I have never been formally trained on how to teach a child suffering from mental health issues or even how to bring the topic up in the classroom.

Whilst these tips by Martin Williams are all within the realms of common sense, it is good to get the reassurance that you can deal with something effectively even if you were never trained to do so:

 

Talk about mental health

“Mental health was never mentioned at school at all,” says Charlotte Walker, who now writes a blog on mental health issues. “I found out I had depression aged 12 from a teenage health guide.”

Now a mother, Walker is acutely aware that there is still a worrying lack of discussion about mental health in schools. It’s a problem that can not only lead to stigmatisation, but also cause health issues to go undiagnosed. “My son’s experience is that schools focus on the ‘safer’ feeling topics, such as insomnia and exam stress, but don’t dare go into the realms of bipolar or schizophrenia.”

Walker suggests that teachers should tackle the problem by simply trying to be more candid about mental health when chatting to children. “We’ve seen that sex and relationship education doesn’t always work because it’s in dedicated sessions,” she explains. “I think it’s important to have a general spirit of openness.”

It’s also important to talk openly about what support is in place for children who are experiencing difficulties, she says. “It tends to be that you only find out what’s on offer once you’ve declared your child is having problems,” Walker says. “If the information is given out to everyone, no one is singled out for stigma or discrimination.”

But tackle derogatory language

While it’s important to encourage discussion of mental health, research has shown that the use of pejorative terms about mental health problems are common in many children’s everyday language. While this is reflective of a wider societal problem, teachers can do their bit by cracking down on language when it is used in a derogatory or abusive way.

“Discriminatory language needs to be challenged,” says Walker. “Schools have come a long way with this on homophobia, but we need challenge the use derogatory words like ‘psycho’ or ‘schizo’ and the devaluing of clinical terms.”

Consultant psychiatrist Arun Chopra has said previously that misuse of terminology leads to misunderstandings about mental health. “You would never hear it used in relation to a physical condition,” he says. “You wouldn’t hear someone being described as a bit diabetic.”

Importantly, however – as has been pointed out before – language is just the visible surface of a deeper discrimination, so tacking language alone can never be the full solution.

Be aware

Unlike physical problems, some mental illnesses aren’t so obvious. “Only a couple of teachers and a handful of friends knew I was anything other than totally fine because I hid it,” says Lorraine Davies, who suffered from anxiety and depression at school. “If I’d been schizophrenic or suicidal maybe it would have been more noticeable, so, weirdly, I might have found more support and less whispering from friends behind my back as they tried to work out why I was being ‘weird’.”

For teachers, the key is to be on the look out for warning signs, according to Dr Raphael Kelvin, the clinical lead for Minded, a website designed to help pupils and teachers understand mental health issues. He suggests that teachers brush up on their knowledge of symptoms and never ignore a child whose behaviour fluctuates.

“If teachers understand that depression can strike not just when someone is saying they’re depressed, but also with someone who’s concentration and motivation has changed, they might be able to help them.”

Kelvin says teachers need to be alert, but do not need to become psychiatrists to help. If in doubt, he says, share your concerns with parents and other teachers to get to the root of the problem.

Help children tell their story to friends

“It’s very important to have a narrative about these things,” says Dr Kelvin, “people need a story to explain how things are. When kids come to the clinic after a period of difficulty, I often try to encourage them to have a story about their experience to explain what they’ve been through to their peers and friends.

“Often they either want to tell everybody or nobody, and the responses vary. The kid who tells everybody can become the butt of insensitive remarks; but the ones who tell nobody end up feeling very isolated. So how do they talk about it to their friends and how much do they want to say? What words do they need to tell their story in a way that’s not too painful? I think those are the kind of things that teachers can support pupils with. If you hear the story of why someone is behaving in a certain way you get a depth of understanding.”

Don’t alienate them further

A child who is experiencing mental health discrimination is such a delicate issue that approaching it clumsily or ignoring it all together can intensify the problem.

Davies says that a lack of understanding among certain teachers pushed her further outside the protection school should provide. “I was asked never to attend one teacher’s classes ever again as I was often late to his 9am because my anxiety was too high for me to get the school bus. Another went out of his way to provoke me – I think he thought I was a drama queen who needed a firm hand.”

Even teachers who are trying to help need to be careful, says Wilson. They should listen closely to pupils’ social concerns and approach issues with huge sensitivity.

“For instance, there are an awful lot of children who will have nothing to do with their classroom assistant because their friends laugh at them,” he says. “You’ve got to take that on board because their self-esteem is often at such a low ebb that anything will set them off. It’s all very finely balanced.”

 

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Tips for Surviving a Teacher Observation

December 1, 2014

observe

 

Nobody loves being “observed” whilst they are going about their job. Here are some helpful tips courtesy of theguardian.com:

 

As you stand in front of your appraising tutor at your first PGCE observation, you’ll no doubt be feeling anxious. But remember; they’ll have seen hundreds of these lessons and witnessed every type of disaster – which means they’ll rarely be surprised or shocked.

Unlike Ofsted, which makes summative judgements, your tutor is looking for good work to build on.

Graham Birrell, senior education lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, and co-author of Succeeding on your Primary PGCE, says the assessments made by your tutors, mentors and class teachers are formative. “The most important thing to go in with is a positive mindset.”

Joanna Sarri, a newly-qualified teacher, agrees: “Tutors are there to help – not criticise. Everything, including making a mistake, is just a learning point.”

The next thing to consider is the content of the lesson. “Avoid an all-singing, all-dancing lesson – this isn’t a reflection of where you really are as a teacher,” advises Sarri. The technology is bound to fail on the day anyway.

Birrell’s advice is to “think of a small thing to do, and then make it a bit smaller”. Don’t avoid risk altogether – just confine that ambition to choosing an edgy or original lesson topic.

Some basic rules also apply. Don’t start an entirely new subject, and have resources and spare copies of your lesson plan ready – which you should also share with your support staff.

Birrell advises against setting lesson objectives that are too vast; students won’t be able to understand the causes of the second world war in 45 minutes.

A common mistake made by new teachers, according to Birrell, is to plan a lesson aimed at keeping the kids busy. They might all be engaged, but if you can’t identify the learning taking place, the tutor will notice.

Rhiannon Rees, also a newly-qualified teacher, recalls a maths lesson in which physical activities and a hot classroom threw her plans into disarray.

“Although I’d sought advice from colleagues and double checked everything, my timing was hopeless and there wasn’t an easy way to pull things back,” she says. “The children were having a great time – if only we’d had another hour.”

Of course, the occasional sweaty disaster will occur. “Be prepared to abandon your plan if necessary,” advises Sarri. “You’ll impress more by being flexible and spontaneous than by sticking to it.”

Then you’ll be able to show that you know what went wrong – demonstrating that you’re on the road to becoming a self-reflective professional.

We can’t pretend that receiving feedback is always fun. Sometimes class teachers lack the ability to make supportive and productive comments to fellow adults. “They can speak to trainees in a way they’d never dare to talk to children,” says Sarri.

Birrell suggests one reason for this potential source of conflict with class teachers. As part of a target-driven system, they’re often anxious about handing over their responsibilities to a trainee, fearful that children will fall behind academically in the hands of a novice.

Be honest and non-defensive when you hear something tough from an observer. “There’s probably a reason, and in your next observation, you get a chance to prove you can change,” says Birrell.

Rees recommends a gracious smile and taking on board the advice you get.

Observations also remind you of what you’re doing well, says Sarri. Training provides an opportunity to explore your personal teaching style – before you’re subsumed into a school with its own version of “what works”.

Remember that, ultimately, it’s the children who count. You may think you’ve aced an observation or crashed out in the first five minutes. But going forward you’ll be learning from the children – the sharpest tools in the box.

 

Click on the link to read The Call to Have Students Rate Their Teachers is Better than it Sounds

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PE Teacher Caught on Camera (Video)

November 22, 2014

Whilst some teachers are getting fed up with the growing trend of being secretly filmed in class, such a practice has uncovered incidents of abject cruelty and criminality.

Take this horrible story for example:

 

A high school gym teacher in California is facing charges after being caught on camera dragging a 14-year-old girl into a swimming pool.

Students took out their cell phones and filmed as Stockton, California, physical education teacher Danny Paterson grabbed the teen girl by the arm and dragged her from the ground into the pool. The girl had reportedly refused to go into the pool because she had plans that night and didn’t want to mess up her hair, but Paterson didn’t seem to care and decided to force her to swim.

In the shocking 95-second clip, the girl can be seen flailing and kicking her legs in the air as the teacher grabs her and begins to drag her into the pool. As she screams to try and get him to stop, she can, at one point, be heard yelling to the educator that her bathing suit top was coming off.

 

Click on the link to read Sometimes You Need to Expect Rudeness

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Biology Teachers Should Never Resort to Rabbit Torture in Class

November 16, 2014

 

rabitt

I’m sorry, but if my science teacher did this I wouldn’t have respected a thing he said or did after that:

 

An Idaho biology teacher is facing possible disciplinary action after killing and skinning a rabbit in class to show students where their food comes from.

Nampa School District spokeswoman Allison Westfall says the teacher killed the rabbit in front of 16 students by snapping its neck on Nov. 6 at Columbia High School.

The rabbit was then skinned and cut up in front of the 10th graders.

Westfall says the demonstration isn’t part of the biology curriculum.

She says students who didn’t want to view the lesson were allowed to leave ahead of time.

The teacher’s name hasn’t been released.

 

Click on the link to read Stop Letting Teachers Walk Free From Their “Inappropriate Conduct”

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I Just Love it When a Teacher Gets It

November 10, 2014

You’d hope that the brilliant Angela Maiers’ views on teaching was the norm, but unfortunately the modern approach to teaching is quite the opposite. We are taught to concentrate solely on the academic side of teaching – we are to care about what and how we teach rather than whom we teach. We are taught that smiling can be a sign of weakness for a teacher and any interest in the hobbies or interests of our students is a show of friendship (and teachers are not their students’ friends).

I wish all teachers broke away from that thinking and instead converted to the Angela Maiers approach. I love it when teachers express the very ideas that underpin my own teaching philosophy. Please watch this clip and tell me what you think.

 

Click on the link to read The Teacher as Superhero

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Stop Letting Teachers Walk Free From Their “Inappropriate Conduct”

October 13, 2014

diane brimble

I’m sick of reading about teachers who are free from jail time for either having sex with their students or trying to. The message sent by not imprisoning a teacher who tries to have sex with her 10 year-old student is appalling. It says that if you want to engage in that sort of conduct the penalty will be minimal.

 

A primary school teacher who wanted to have sex with her 10-year-old student, and had his name tattooed on her chest, has walked free from court.

County Court judge Mark Taft said he was at a complete loss to understand why mother of eight Diane Brimble, 47, had engaged in “such utterly inappropriate conduct which must dismay every parent”.

“You breached the trust reposed in you by [the boy’s] parents who properly expected that a classroom teacher would care for their son in a professional manner,” Judge Taft said on Thursday when sentencing Brimble on a two-year community correction order and 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Click on the link to read The School Camp Two Teachers Will Never Forget

Click on the link to read We Are Too Soft on Teachers Who Have Sex With Their Students

Click on the link to read Why Teaching and Politics Should not Mix

Click on the link to read Abusing the Privillege of Teaching Children

Click on the link to read Teacher Allegedly Has Cocaine Delivered to School

10 Ways to Move Forward in Teaching as Well as Life in General

October 7, 2014

forward

Courtesy of

 

Click on the link to read 5 Ways the System Could Better Recognise Teachers

Click on the link to read Teachers, Lay Down Your Guns

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Click on the link to read Failure is Part of Success

5 Ways the System Could Better Recognise Teachers

October 5, 2014

world teachers day

It’s World Teacher Day! It’s great having a day totally devoted to teaching but imagine if it came with a gesture … or maybe 5:

 

1. From now on we are limiting your paperwork to manageable levels – Yearly planners, term planners, weekly planners, daily planners, Integrated planners – I go planner mad! I spend more time working on planners in a week than sleeping. And do the planners make me a better teacher? No way! If anything it makes it harder for me to find time to develop and prepare for the kind of engaging lessons my students need.

2. From now on you don’t have to halt your everyday teaching for every little new cause – Whenever something disturbing happens in society the reaction always seems to be , “All we need to do is educate our children about it”. The result being, lessons on nutrition, resilience, anti-bullying,  anti-gambling, anti-drugs, anti-smoking, responsible alcohol consumption, treatment of women, road safety, bike safety, cybersafety, stranger danger, first aid, body image, sex ed … and the list goes on and on. It’s not that these areas are not important. Far from it. It’s just that if you want me to cover these areas you should be excusing me for all the maths and science I haven’t been able to fit in.

3. From now on just the one staff meeting will suffice – One weekly staff meeting before school meeting and 2 after school weekly meetings is just too excessive. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking shop (this blog proves that), but I have a family. The best workplaces recognise that the home work balance is essential to being a good employee. Extra staff meetings are great for building stress among teachers, not results.

4. From now on we have decided to stop caring how colourful your classroom looks like – As I have admitted before, I would make a terrible interior decorator.  For some reason some bosses are fixated with grand noticeboards and classy themed classroom designs that do little to showcase the childrens’ work and do more to showcase a teacher’s ego. What results is a competitiveness among the teachers to have the glitziest classroom, whilst hacks like me must settle for a rather large dose of ‘classroom envy’.

5. From now on we are scrapping kitchen clean-up duty – Can you imagine instructing one or two of your students to clean up the mess left by the entire class? Why on earth are we teaching our children to clean up after themselves but refuse to live by that philosophy ourselves? Here’s a novel idea. When a teacher decides to make a cup of coffee, that teacher and that teacher alone is responsible for making sure that he/she cleans up any mess made and washes the dirty mug once finished. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

 

Click on the link to read Teachers, Lay Down Your Guns

Click on the link to read 4 Ways to Identify a Great Teacher

Click on the link to read 3 Examples Why Robin Williams Would Have Made a Great Teacher

Click on the link to read Failure is Part of Success

Click on the link to read Apparently Cool Kids Really Do Finish Last

The School Camp Two Teachers Will Never Forget

September 22, 2014

drunk

These type of episodes neither come about by bad luck or poor judgement, they are a clear sign that those involved have decided they no longer want to be teachers:

 

A school trip was abandoned when two teachers drank 16 pints and six bottles of wine between them.

The teachers passed out during the visit to Germany.

The two male teachers downed eight pints of beer three bottles of wine and several glasses of brandy….EACH.           

The following morning one couldn’t wake up and the other wandered around in a daze, unable to speak and with a large cut to his head, the result of falling over during his boozy session.

The teacher from a secondary school in Bramsche near Hanover had taken their students to Hamburg last week.

The director of a youth hostel where they were staying contacted the police when he was “unable to get any sense” out of the teachers.

“Usually it is students who get sent home because of drinking but this time it was the teachers,” said a police spokesman.

The children were loaded on board a minibus the day after the start of their planned week-long break and sent home. The two teachers have been suspended pending an enquiry.

 

Click on the link to read We Are Too Soft on Teachers Who Have Sex With Their Students

Click on the link to read Why Teaching and Politics Should not Mix

Click on the link to read Abusing the Privillege of Teaching Children

Click on the link to read Teacher Allegedly Has Cocaine Delivered to School

Click on the link to read Dealing Softly with Bad Teachers Sends the Wrong Message to Students


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