Let's kick off the new year in style without crashing into the holidays, exhausted and bewildered! Try these top ten ideas for a sustainable way to take control of the best term you've ever had at college!
1 – Pace
Hit the ground running, yes, but remember you cannot sprint all the way through to the end of term. Pacing is crucial. Ensure you safeguard time off and book something relaxing to do during the half term break. Take care of your wellbeing on an ongoing basis so that your breaks aren’t dominated by sickness.
2 – Communicate
Colleagues can’t always be trusted to notice when you are struggling. Build sound relationships and talk about your concerns sooner rather than later. Be a good listener too. Don’t be afraid to admit when your workload gets too heavy.
3 – Keep it light
It’s so easy to get bogged down in the intensity of the term. If workload escalates, stress levels are bound to soar and we tend to find it harder to retain a healthy perspective that keeps our working lives from bleeding into every other aspect of life. Guard against that. Remember the things that make you feel good, and actually do them. Remember what calms you and what relaxes you. Plan enjoyable things for your time off and take note of the little things that boost your mood.
4 – Learn Names
It’s wise to learn names as quickly as possible if you're taking on new classes this year. It helps with transforming behaviour and makes relating easier too. Some educators rely on seating plans for this, others choose to take photos – whatever works for you, do it.
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5 – Rest
You cannot plough on, running on empty indefinitely. Something will give. Build adequate rest time into your working week and there’s a high chance you’ll improve efficiency. Resting leads to a win/win outcome.
6 – Smile
Ever been told not to smile until the holidays? Forget it! Smile as much as you can. You’d be surprised at how something as simple as a smile can help with building strong and effective relationships with the children and young people you teach.
7 – Reflect
Great educators are reflective teachers. Find what works for you. Some keep learning journals, some make a note of what’s worked and what needs refinement, some jot a word or two down each day by way of summary; there are many approaches to reflection. The key is to find a way that works for you so that reflection becomes a feature of your day to day work.
8 – Collaborate
There’s so much we can learn through working more closely with others. There are bound to be opportunities for collaborative working so take them whenever possible. Joint planning can mean a reduction in workload, and working with a colleague on any difficulties you may be facing is bound to bring about speedy solutions. There’s no point in struggling alone.
9 – Learn
Your early professional development is an important bridge between your initial teaching education and the rest of your career. Identify development needs as soon as possible and find out how these might best be met. Colleagues can be a great source of development too so find out what areas of expertise exist in your college and fill the gaps in your knowledge!
10 – Thrive
Forget about surviving, your career is all about thriving. If you’re not enjoying your work, despite any challenges you may be facing, it’s time to take action. Aim to thrive rather than survive.
Whether you’re new or experienced, have a great term!
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.