- Don’t think about it or countdown the days: this one seems easier than it actually is. It is important to try and enjoy and relax for the remaining holiday time. I find telling myself things like “no, not yet” when I think about back to school helpful.
- Don’t madly rush to do all of the jobs on your list: it is essential to remain calm and not break your neck trying to finish your list. It creates a sense of panic and that is not helpful at this time of year. You are and were entitled to a break. Don’t feel guilty over what is not done.
- Accept that there are some things that you will not get to: as much as I plan to have a perfect classroom, I always, always fall short. Things cannot be perfect and you can fix some of those little jobs in the first few weeks.
- Start a new countdown: this one helps me. I work out how many days until my next break. I find this helps me to focus on short term chunks and it feels more manageable.
- Use your diary: as soon as my dates are in my diary and I know what is happening, I feel more settled and on top of things. This is one thing that I find important in keeping a sense of calm. I know what is coming and when.
- Accept that it will be hard at the start and that you are not alone: everyone is in the same boat returning to school. Your peers will have slept in too, stayed up late and had inconsistent sleeping times. They will feel exhausted like you. They won’t be able get out of bed and will struggle like you. Changing routine is always hard. I try and just accept that and move forward.
- Rest: the obvious and most important one. Take the time needed to rest. You seem to hit the ground running. Unlike some jobs, there is no taking it slow or adjustment time. You are straight back into the speed race. Remember to breathe, rest and sleep as much as you can.
- Prioritise: You need to make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed. After a holiday, your back to school list seems to feel triple. Your workload feels like it doubles. Make sure that you check what is urgent and important first.
It’s hard to believe. Your sleeping in, relaxing, reading and then BAM. Those dreaded words start to appear on TV. Ads scream “Back to school”. It is a rude awakening. Your mind starts to race and fills with all of those things that you need to and haven’t done. The guilt over leaving things too late sets in. Trust me, after 16 years, I know these feelings well. It does get a tiny bit easier with experience (not too much). Some teachers like this time, some don’t. I am firmly in the I don’t camp. However, I do survive. I will survive. Here a few things that I find helps at this time of year:
FREE GIVEAWAY TIME!!!! We are giving away our chalk board days and month circles (8cm) in two different fonts. All you have to do is:
1.) Like Facebook- champion if you have done it already
2.) Tag a mate
3.) Email us in one word your favourite theme I.e. space at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will email you your product circles back. That's it! Enjoy #giveaway #teachers #free #twocreativeteachers
If only we could all turn back time. There are so many things that I wish that I could tell my first year self. Being a graduate is stressful and confronting. The reality is that university doesn’t always properly prepare you for the harsh yet rewarding truth. It is not the university systems fault. They try and give graduates in Australia many real life experiences. In Australia, graduates are also supported in their first year out. I, like many of you, work with graduates. People who want to make a difference and are excited to start their teaching journey. I hope that by sharing some of these tips, I can provide some simple ways that can keep you motivated and positive. These tips can also be used for other first year jobs.
No matter what, you will always remember your first grade. Doesn’t matter if it is mostly positive or the opposite, you will still remember it. There are definitely things that you could always do differently or try. Hopefully, some of the above tips have something that you could try and remember. After all, the first year is still one of the most memorable. The last thing that anyone wants, is to remember someone who doesn’t step up and complete their fair share of the work. Or a person who walks in and complains. Graduates, what would you like to really know? Teachers, think about what tips you wish that you could share with graduate teachers. (Besides get out while you can!) #twocreativeteachers #graduate #teacher #education #firstyeartips
Parent teacher conferences are a necessary requirement of the job. Many parents do not see the anxiety, stress and headaches that come with meeting new families. Equally, the worry that comes with the dreaded call or email that says “Can I catch up with you?”. Hopefully today I can give you some sure fire tips to improve your chances of having a successful parent teacher conference, meeting or interview.
#parentconferences #parentteacher #twocreativeteachers #teacher #education #nailparentteacherconferences
The beginning of year parent teacher interviews or conferences are vital. They are a good chance to develop a positive relationship, get on the same page as well as learn how to better support the children to learn. It is also the most nerve racking time. It is like beginning a new relationship with 30 families. Certainly a unique and challenging situation. It is also the best time to learn as much as you can about the child. After all, this may be the only time that you interact with this family. So it is important to gather as much information as possible. These questions may work for some situations. I have found most parents receptive. However, privacy is always a concern and people will certainly not reveal everything at the first meeting, just like you wouldn’t. Here are some of the questions that I find useful at the beginning of the year interviews:
Sometimes there is a mystery that surrounds school. Parents often ask what their children are like at school and nine times out of ten, it is different. It got me thinking of things that I wish I could tell all parents is the reality of school and what is and is not ok. So here is my top eight for parents to know:
Are reports worth the hassle?
The question is a dramatic one I know. There are people at home crying “Of course they are!”. They give parents information about their child’s learning progress. However, what I have come to realise is that reports are not as relevant and important as teachers think they are. Yes, parent communication is vital and essential. I agree whole heartedly with that. What I believe is that there are just better ways to do this than two formal reports a year. The amount of time, energy, even money for reporting days may not be worth it.
One of the first questions teachers ask at parent teacher interviews is “Have you read the report?”. You would be astounded by the amount of times the answer is simply no. After all, that time, energy, editing stress, formal documentation expectations, data analysis for the parents to understand their child’s progress and you get that dreaded one word no. So if parents simply don’t pay attention to it, is there are better way? Is it even worth the effort? Or are reports simply just way too hard to comprehend?
After the weeks of proof reading and checking, the reports are often based on old data. The data that we share especially in many other areas of learning such as Inquiry, is often ten weeks old by the time it is in a parent’s hand. I can’t often remember what I did a week ago, let alone ten. The sad fact is, many reports seems to be based on work samples that were relevant at that time. It doesn’t even mean that the children understand it or can recall facts 10 weeks on. Schools move so quickly that kids simply don’t use or need that learning 10 weeks later. You would be surprised how many times the kids have forgotten what happened that long ago. So therefore, they may not actually know what you are reporting on. If this is the case, how useful and relevant are the reports? Is the data simply too old and not as accurate ten weeks on?
After my years of experience, I understand the legal requirements of reporting. I simply think that there is a better way that is more relevant and useful. After all the time, energy and stress that goes into reports, I don’t feel that the outcome is worth it. My time would be better spent with the kids and doing things for the kids. They deserve the best version of me, not an anxious, exhausted and stressed out version. Sharing outcomes and small amounts of data ongoing would be a better option. There seems to be a shift towards reporting on data outcomes and sharing it with parents more regularly. That at least is manageable and gathering data is what I do anyway. You often don’t hear from parents wanting data until they understand that their child needs help. The teacher comment and description of the overall child is still the most relevant and beneficial. I still believe the general summary of the child as a learner is essential and shouldn’t change. The actual outcomes and standards and specifics of learning can certainly be shared and sent home early and more regularly. After all, wouldn’t parents want to discuss relevant data and build on that, rather than find out ten weeks later when it’s not as current?
Unfortunately, the time, energy, stress and change in the school year for reports is not worth it. Schools should be a place of learning and a place where the teachers are calm, happy and relaxed. Children often pick up on the moods of adults. People who are not teachers should never underestimate the extreme stress of reports. Imagine that you are told you need to write a summary on 30 of your co workers, with their strengths, challenges, learnings and skills. Then have to have it finished over a 6 week period. All that on top of your normal job. My issues are not with reports. It is part of my job and it is certainly essential to communicate progress with parents. I just believe there is a smarter way to report to parents. If you know one, be sure to send that information to the rest of us!
#teacher #education #reportwriting #twocreativeteachers
In my career, I have only had to change year levels four times. I have spent four years at each year level (except prep, gosh I admire prep teachers). Now I am back to where I started. Changing year levels is always a challenge, one that I am glad to have experienced. It keeps you on your toes and learning. It also helps you understand the developmental stages of learning better. So if you are changing year levels this year, here are some things you can expect:
This week at school it was school photo time. A time when everyone else looks forward to looking their best and having memories. While everyone is some are doing their hair and makeup and practising poses, I am internally cringing. You see I actually dread school photos. All it reminds me is of is that I don’t look how I want to, I will be embarrassed at the end result and fear the comments coming. I know, these are totally unrealistic thoughts. No one has ever said a bad word about photos to me and my husband always tells me they look good (even if they don’t). However, it did get me thinking of those dreaded moments when you cringe inside and your stomach churns. For some, anxiety and stress can come in the simplest things. Here are some of the more common times that I have heard of teachers experiencing those gut churning freak out moment:
#secretfreakout #dreadedmoment #twocreativeteachers
Let’s be honest, the start of any new school year is stressful. It is stressful for students, parents as well as teachers. There are many jobs to do, items to get and routines to begin. New classmates, teachers and parents to get to know and form a relationship with. Teachers need parents to be positive and patient at the beginning of the new school year. Things may need to be readjusted or changed based on the skill level, knowledge, behaviour and understanding of the new group of students. So here are a few things that you can do to work in partnership with teachers at the start of a new school year:
Get to know your teacher: It is really important to have a relationship with your child’s teacher. They are a person who gets sicks, has worries, stresses, laughs, has friends and a family. Teachers need a professional level of privacy but it certainly doesn’t mean that you cannot ask them how their day has been or if they are enjoying the year. Some teachers are more transparent than others and some have more experience than others. It doesn’t mean that one is better than the other.
Speak positively about the start of the new school year: sometimes children hear things that they shouldn’t. Discussions about other children, parents or a teacher. Like it or not, their little brains often cannot process what is in between the lines. Making sure that you speak positivity helps your child to feel confident and like you are in partnership with the school, not against it. There are many research articles that state how a child progresses and learns better when the family and school are in partnership. Start the year with a partner and teamwork mentality.
Be patient with routines and school procedures: as a teacher or a team of teachers, new challenges arise with the new school year. Procedures, structures and routines that worked with one group of children may need to be restructured or changed to suit a new group of students. A classic example is reader routines. Some groups of children are more independent than others. So be patient of things take time or are different from the last school year. Remember that teachers also may have to get know a new team as well. I teach juniors and grade one is a whole different kettle of fish to grade prep or foundation. It also can depend on whether a classroom or community is multi age. Some children find it difficult to adjust to be the younger or elder children in a community. It doesn’t mean that it is bad, just different. I can tell you as a teacher, that any changes in organisation or structures that occur have been well discussed and based on feedback or data.
Don’t bombard your children with questions: What did you do? Who do you play with? Do you have a reader? Do you like the teacher? Where is your library book? Wow, imagine being a kid again. A mistake that I often see is people bombard kids with too many questions. If they do not play with someone do not be alarmed yet. They may like to play alone or may be making new friends. If they give you one worded answers, it may mean that they are exhausted and want to switch off rather than something is wrong. Give your child the time and space to adjust to new routines and new people.
Get into a routine and be prepared for many notes: Routine is one of the most important aspect of the new school year. We all know what it is like coming back from holidays. You feel down, your body needs time to adjust and your to do list seems to never end. It is the same for kids. They will feel tired, have a down day and need to chill as well. The start of the school year really sets the tone for the year. Be prepared for notes to come flying in. There will be organisational matters and paperwork requirements that schools and teachers need. So be patient and try and set aside a space for school notes. Try to fill out notes when you get them and add notes to your diary immediately.
The start of the new school year is exciting. It brings new beginnings, fresh challenges, new relationships and most importantly learning. Make sure that you start the new school year on the right foot. #backtoschool #parents #teachers #twocreativeteachers #schoolteamwork
Annette Palma and Carley Rogozik/ Dawson