Episode 70 How to begin your year well

Show Notes

Key Point #1: Establish a workflow

  • How will you set up your classroom (if you have one)?
  • Where will you get Deep Work done?
  • Pick a calendar and use it well (block in work time)

Key Point #2: Prepare to meet your students

  • Create a class profile (see Ep 45)
  • Think about how you are going to help them become lifelong learners
  • Set up your roles, markbooks etc
  • Create a intro video to yourself 

Key Point #3: Set your own Professional Learning goals

  • I reflect on the Australian National Standards for Teachers (free course to help you do this)
  • At minimum reflect in general, do a SWOT analysis of your teaching and set your own goals
  • Share them with someone who will help you grow… Next episode (mentoring and coaching)


Free Online course to help you set your profesional learning goals


Dan: (00:00)
Hi, everyone. And welcome again to the effective teaching podcast.

Dan: (00:04)
Well, this year I wanted to do something a little bit different with the podcast. I’m still going to continue to give you effective classroom strategies that you can use to create lifelong learners. It’s still going to be the core aspect to the podcast, but because there’s more teaching than just what happens in the classroom. I thought that I would also do a whole bunch of podcasts that are actually just about helping you as a teacher to constantly improve your practice for the betterment of the students in your class to help them with their learning. So in essence, it’s still focusing on helping students learn and that lifelong learning aspect, but kind of a step out of the classroom, I guess, in the sense of helping you as a teacher, set yourself up well, and to do things well in the background like programming and, uh, talking to parents and all those kinds of things. So in this episode, we’re up to episode 70. So if you’re at the show notes, head to teacherspd.net/70, and you can grab all the notes there and find out where there’s transcripts, I’ve got a new player, I’ve got new hosts for the podcast now. So the player looks a bit better and all that kind of stuff, which is a little bit fancy, but it’s really cool to just be able to provide stuff that is helpful for you, and hopefully sets you up as a teacher to continue to improve your practice.

Dan: (01:24)
Now for this week, what I actually want to have a look at is how you can go about beginning your year well, as a teacher. Now, this for me comes in a few different ways. Number one, I think it’s really important for you to establish your workflow for your year. And what I mean by that is, you know, how will you be setting up your classroom if you have your own classroom? That is, but you’re thinking through how you’re going to set that up. And generally what I would advise you to do is to kind of have three areas in your class where you’re going to be helping your students with their learning. One that’s kind of individual learning, where the kids are working on their own one, that’s collaborative or social learning, where kids are learning together. So maybe it’s kind of like an, a cafe type setting.

Dan: (02:09)
And the other one is the group space where kids are presenting or, uh, or maybe you’re presenting to them. Or maybe they’re watching something if you’re, if you’re doing that as well. So they’re the kind of three key spaces that I think are really important for how you choose to lay out a classroom. If you’re doing also, you know, all the other organizations and things you might put up on the wall or that kind of stuff too. The second thing in establishing your workflow is for you to think through how you as a teacher, actually going to get some deep work done now. But what I’m, what I mean by deep work, deep work is essentially the work that requires you to be really focused. There’s not easy to replicate and that can’t be done while you’re distracted. Okay. And that’s really important. A lot of teachers constantly are doing their work while they’re distracted.

Dan: (02:57)
And it’s really important for you to think through where you’re going to be doing some quality deep work as a teacher. So places not to do this one in your classroom, if it’s full of kids, or if kids are still around and confined, you are not in the staff room, any staffing where there’s more than one teacher, right? You’re going to get distracted generally, or maybe you have a really good colleague. Who’s not going to distract you, but still have very clear memories of teachers who just invade my personal space while I was trying to get personal work done, just because they wanted that chat, which was fine at the time. But yeah, I was trying to get the work done and I constantly got interrupted. So think through where you can do that. So if you have an office, that’s fantastic. If you can go and hide away somewhere in a library in a study room, or maybe you have a, you know, where there’s going to be a spare classrooms that are empty during your periods off or something like that, make sure that you actually think about where you’re going to do that and plan to use it, plan to use it in your day-to-day life as a teacher, because that’s where you want to go when you need to actually be focused and get stuff done.

Dan: (04:02)
The other thing I want you to do is think about your calendar and how you’re going to actually use it. So that could be an electronic calendar. It could be, you know, your daily diary kind of schedule things that you might use as a teacher, your planner, whatever it is that you use as a teacher. I want you to think through how you’re going to set that up and make sure you use it really, really well. Okay. One thing that I know used to happen to me all the time is I used to have all these great intentions at the beginning of the year. I would start to lay out my plan, start to writing all my notes in my planner, but then after a little while things got busy and I wouldn’t have time to write all in my diary as we went, I would just kind of do things ad hoc as I went, uh, not necessarily my teaching, but just generally stuff that I was doing as a teacher, uh, just allowed other people to really dictate my time too much.

Dan: (04:52)
And so some advice for you, as you begin your year to think about how you are going to really restrict your time that you give to other people or that you give to things that are not part of your core purpose as a teacher, which is really to help students learn. And so anything that distracts from that, if you don’t have to do it, I would encourage you not to do it. And that’s the point when it comes to beginning, your you will, is to actually make sure that you prepare to meet your students. And so what I mean by that is creating a class profile that if you don’t do that, or you’ve never heard of it, go and check out episode 45. There’s a whole episode about why I keep a class profile and you can find a template linked there at teacherspd.net/45.

Dan: (05:40)
If you’d want to go and access that template that I use to create my class profiles. So credit class profile really just helps you to get to know your students. And you can do that at most schools. You can do that before you even go into your first lesson. You can gather that information from databases that your school has, can go to that information on the learning support team from past teachers who have taught those students get as much information as you can before your year starts. The other thing under here with preparing to meet your students is to think about how you’re going to help them to become lifelong learners. How are you going to help your students to become self-sufficient in their own learning? So are you planning in and embedding your formative assessment? Are you thinking about what you’re going to do to stimulate curiosity and to motivate your students and empower them in their learning?

Dan: (06:30)
So think about that at this point already, before you start your classes, you also should start to think about, yes. I think I, people goals. If you do use a Macrkbook, set that up as well, make sure everything is ready to go saves you time. When you first go back into school, when you know all your executive and your school generally just takes all your time. You just sent a, lose it very quickly at the beginning of the year. So take your time now, before the school starts to make demands of you to put in place everything that you can. And finally here, I want you to consider how you might go about making a video for your students that introduces you to them. And maybe even another one for the parents of your students that introduces you to the parents and maybe talks about how your classroom is going to work and all that kind of stuff to really set things up super well, as you begin this year.

Dan: (07:21)
Now, the final thing I want to talk about is to make sure that you actually set yourself up professionally by creating learning goals. At the beginning of the year, the way I like to do this is that I generally will reflect on our Australia national teaching standards. That is just a nice spread sheet type document, really a little table, just as kind of like a marking criteria, really. And I go through it and I reflect on the standards and think about what evidence I can come up with that I, you did last year. So what things did I do last year that meet these standards? And if I can’t think of any actual evidence, I might highlight it as a, as a medium or weak area for me to develop later. And so that’s how I do it. And in fact, I really enjoy doing it that way.

Dan: (08:10)
And I have created a free course on my website. If you go to teacherspd.net, just to the home page, you’ll see a free course. It’s called reflecting on practice, go and check it out and start your year off really well by just going through essentially the same process I go through. I’m just going to walk you through the standards. Talk about what kind of things can as evidence for those standards to help you to think about what goals you can set as a teacher, and also thinking about your school’s goals, your students’ goals, and how they might might align into what you’re going to do professionally as your professional learning goals to help you get, to continue to improve. And that’s also part of the reason why it’s important for you to get to know your students early, because if you have a student who, for example, might have a hearing difficulty, and you’ve never taught a student with a hearing difficulty that might become a professional learning goal for you for this year to make sure you actually get that done at minimum, though, if you’re not going to reflect on the standards like that at least reflect on last year and do a kind of a SWAT analysis of your teaching to see as strengths, weaknesses, the opportunities and the threats that come into your teaching to help you think about where you’re going to go and set some goals for your professional learning now, and then look forward into what you might do in the future to address those goals.

Dan: (09:31)
And finally, I really want to encourage you to share your goals with someone else. So share them with another teacher, basically kind of find out what’s going to hold you accountable. If you have a mentor or you have someone who’s going to coach you, that is really fantastic. That’s the kind of thing that you’d want for that. And I’m actually going to talk all about mentoring and coaching in my next episode. So make sure you come back next week for episode 71, where we’re going to talk about coaching and mentoring and all the stuff that that can do to help you with your career as well. Well, thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode, episode 70, make sure you take some action this week, before school gets back and it takes up all of your time. Make sure you have gotten on top of everything so that your other demands, when you get there, you actually have the time to give to them. All right, well, come and check out the show notes, head to teacherspd.net/70. And if you are keen for a free course, make sure you head to teacherspd.net, just on our homepage. You’ll see a big image there. It’s really clear that says reflecting on practice, click that it’ll take you to register. It’s a free course and start reflecting to set some professional learning goals for yourself this year. But I hope that you’ll come and join me next week. When I talk about coaching and mentoring and the benefits it has for you.

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  1. Mary Nelapati

    Thanks for your very thoughtful advice before the school starts.

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