I love making resolutions. It is part of my deep and abiding passion for list making; for what else are your resolutions than the ultimate in lists? They set out your good intentions for the year and, probably after one-too many glasses of fizzy wine, make you feel inordinately better about the new year stretching ahead of you.
Having said that, I do find January an odd time to make resolutions. Ever a creature of habit, I am firmly locked into September being the start of a new year: my (first) gap year ran September to September so although I was working full time in a job without summer holidays, it began in September when I left Sixth Form and ended in the September when I left for university. My university years all finished in June, which meant that I never really left the September-September year pattern of my youth. During my second gap year I again worked full time and then ran away to South America for five months, returning to my first year of Teach First training and my PGCE in, guess what, September. I am sure that this adherence to September as the ‘real’ new year is the same as many teachers.
Despite this, I feel that the Christmas holidays provide a great time for reflection. The problems that you have with your classes will have clearly manifested themselves by this point and there has been time to experiment with routines/ solutions and work out what works…and what definitely does not. Therefore, in the spirit of reflection, I have decided to set myself some teaching resolutions as well as my personal ones (which will remain personal).
So here goes:
1. Try a new activity with at least one class once a day.
This may just be a new type of question (or some of the fab questioning resources that have had stolen from @kohlmand on Twitter), a new starter or new plenary. It may be a whole Phil Beadle-esque singing, dancing, standing on the tables lesson. But it will be new. I have found that I am already falling back on ‘old faithful’ activities. It is too early in the year to do this. I need to make sure that lessons are still engaging and somewhat unpredictable so students do still want to come to my classroom.
2. Use ICT and homework to meaningfully enhance learning.
I have blogged about this topic before and want to keep developing the changes that I have made. In the new year our school is getting a brilliant new VLE from FROG. It looks AMAZING but I want to be able to utilise its full potential in my lessons and for homework to carry on learning once students have left the classroom
3. To work out a really effective way of teaching History to students with very low motivation/ engagement with History.
I have made some excellent progress with students who fit this bill over the past year and a half but I feel that I am not catering for the needs of these students in the way that I have done for other students. I am determined that this year will be the year that I have the ‘eureka’ moment that I have had with other classes. At the moment I am thinking of changing the curriculum slightly as another level of differentiation: the same skills will be taught but topics will be slightly different to hopefully engage the students more. Having said that, this is just an idea: any suggestions would be welcome on @annebradsaw88 on Twitter!