You’ve survived your first term of remote teaching! That is so huge. Well done you, the deadly remote teacher!
First term was all about finding your feet- unpacking your house, getting to know your students, new colleagues, new community, new culture, new language, new ways of learning, new expectations at a new school. You had a few hiccups, a few challenges, a lot of learning curves.
The second term is yours to conquer! But how?
- Plan for professional development
- Connect with others
- Make a plan of action
Take the time to reflect on the term that was. You could do this by doing a column for ‘Personal life, classroom, finances’ for an overarching view of your life remote OR maybe ‘Personal wellbeing, learning, behaviour management, curriculum planning’ for a more classroom focused one. At the top of each column write your strengths and at the bottom of each three things you could improve. You might do a Plus/Minus/Interesting (PMI) chart or Plus, Minuses, Opportunities, Threats chart to plot the same information instead.
Reflect: What is working really well that you can build on? What was eating up all your time- can you make a plan to streamline that? What caused you the most stress? What would make your life easier if you had strategies to improve?
For new teachers in remote communities that might be:
- Issues with behaviour management
- Struggling to effectively differentiate
- Challenge to come up with engaging, culturally appropriate lessons
- Keeping students engaged
- Teaching and learning in an ESLD classroom
- Different ways of teasing, conflict and dealing with conflict
- Learning to work effectively with your Aboriginal Education Officer
- Time management
- Assessment and differentiation of assessment
- Communication with families
- Feeling isolated, overwhelmed or culture shock
- Switching off from work
- Supporting children with challenging learning needs or behaviours
- Finding culturally appropriate resources
Or it might be none of those and something completely different for you. Either way- choose maximum of three areas for improvement for next term.
Write them down. Write down what the other side of your area for improvement will be. Write down how you will feel when you have overcome your challenge.
- Issues dealing with behaviours in my class. I will be confident and competent at managing behaviour in my class effectively to reduce the number of escalations each day. I will feel calmer and enjoy more time for other classroom jobs as I will be spending less time following up negative behaviours.
- Struggling to differentiate. I will be able to differentiate for the wide range of abilities in my classroom quickly and with ease. I will enjoy more time and my class will feel productive and calm.
The reason I like to write all three elements are because it is easy to say what the problem is but it is often a little tricker to think about how you actually want to improve and why. Stating the feeling at the end is extra motivation to improve but also helps you realise when you have achieved your goal- when you are feeling that way. Once you can explain what the problem is and how you want your class to be you can then start planning for the steps you need to take to achieve that.
Plan for professional development
Now you know the areas you want to improve on you could start listening to podcasts, watching videos, asking colleagues and doing PD to work on those areas for improvement.
Check if any of these areas align with the School Business Plan or State/Territory directions- you might be able to ask the leadership team to run a whole school PD on an area that interests you. Ask your leadership team if there is budget for a specific training you want- if you can link it directly to how it will improve your classroom great but even better if it will be something beneficial to the whole school or a wider audience as well. Is this something that you need to fund yourself and claim part back through tax as self-education? Are there free learning opportunities you could take up? Could you set up a professional reading and learning group at your school?
Professional development doesn’t just have to be a PD course. It can also be finding a mentor to support you in the area for improvement. Someone who can allow you to work shadow for a day, observe a class, observe your class and offer targeted suggestions and strategies.
Professional development can be podcasts, books, collegial conversations, brainstorming strategy staff meetings as well. Sometimes doing the professional development work feels like extra workload when you are already overworked and overwhelmed. But know that putting in the work now will reduce your workload later.
Ask over on Teachers in Remote Communities (Past, Present, Future) for suggestions of professional development or steps to take to address your concern. Need specific support- maybe consider a Membership.
Work with your Aboriginal Education Assistant, First Nations colleagues, teaching team to plan for improvement, support and team planning/teaching. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
Share around the planning so you can focus on improving another area of your teaching. You might co-plan with your Aboriginal Education Assistant and encourage them to plan, prepare and teach a small section of the lesson such as two-way code switching, or a small group in maths or a rotation in English. You might co-plan a unit with a teacher in a different grade but share resources and differentiate from there.
Consider doing some lessons with another class (if your class sizes are small enough). You might then learn about behaviour management of another teacher through team teaching and observation? Or you might get the opportunity to try the rotations you have been dreaming of trying but having an extra set of eyes and hands allow you to feel confident to give it a go.
Share your area for improvement with your colleagues and see if they have strategies, support or resources to help you too.
And if you are in a smaller school- why not see if you can find a teaching ‘pod’ over on our free Facebook group and do some team planning, moderation and support from their?
Join a vibrant community of remote educators over on Teachers in Remote Communities (Past, Present, Future) on Facebook. Or maybe you want something more tailored? You might investigate joining our Membership. Connecting with experts, fellow remote teachers with similar ages will allow you to bounce ideas and problems off each other so that you can quickly get ideas to support a better Term 2!
Maybe connect in your learning area in the official association such as Australian English Teacher Association or Science Teachers Association? Through membership you might have access to newsletters, free or discounted professional development, discounted teaching resources and access to other supports.
You might like to join the teachers union from your state or territory. Often members are sent monthly union magazines with information and professional development opportunities. They are well versed in the ins and outs of your contract and can support you with issues that might arise in your teaching placement. They are a level of protection if something should go wrong.
Make a plan of action
Now let’s make all that thinking turn into action!
What are your next steps? Break down your bigger goal into smaller achievable ones that will have the biggest impact in your classroom. Use smart goals to help you be clear and not waste precious time and energy. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely.
What support do you need? Who will you ask for support and what specific support do you want from them?
What resources do you need? Do you have the funds/how will you get the fund?
What will it look like and feel like when this goal has been achieved?
The fact that you even took the time to find and read this article tells me that you are well on your way to having a great term! You got this.
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