Back to school: the prep task teachers shouldn’t forget

Before school starts at 100mph and exam discussions take over, make sure you take time to reflect on what worked well last year. So says Peter Smith writing in the Guardian

We’ve had six weeks off to relax, visit exotic climes (I write this from Devon), even rebuild family relationships we’ve neglected. There’s also a need to reflect on what we did last year as professionals. Where did you excel? When did it feel really good to be a teacher and what led you to that feeling? We often challenge our students to reflect – but have you asked yourself what you did well last year? Make a list if necessary.

And then the tougher bit. Where is there room for improvement? Where can you go next as a teacher/year leader/head teacher? Questioning what others might say you could do better is a good way to start, but also ask yourself what you know you could have done better? For me, I got behind in marking and record keeping. I was at a new school, other challenges got in the way and the basics sometimes slipped. So this term I will make a conscious effort to stay on top of the workload.

And this is my point. Before school starts at 100mph and exam result discussions take over, take time to think about your performance last year. You’re only a better professional in the next year of your career if you learn from the previous experiences. Whenever I talk to colleagues who are apprehensive about starting again and joining a new school, I tell them it’s the best thing for their career. My logic is that a new school means you have to reinvent yourself and establish a reputation afresh. It enables you to keep the things you do well – and improve your weaker points.

Taking this mindset and applying it to the new school year isn’t a bad idea – regardless of whether your changing job, role or school.

Peter Smith has been teaching for more than 10 years. He is an assistant headteacher at East Bergholt High School in Suffolk. He tweets as @hi9pms.

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What tips would you share for teachers starting back for a new school year, whether in a new situation or not? How can they get off to the best possible start? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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