However, one thing I noticed among teachers is that most of them focus on what they should have done differently or what they couldn’t do in their classes because there was no time or energy or even materials left. Moreover, some of them had the feeling they have not participated in enough CPD (Continuous Professional Development) activities because they were too busy teaching and planning their classes. I too had such feelings as another year comes to an end. It was only when I was conducting a teacher training session a while ago focussing on practices to make teachers more aware of what they have accomplished, that I realised myself how much I had done this year.
At this very moment, we, as teachers may be too tired to realise what we have achieved during the year. Take a moment to reflect on the things you have learnt and put into practice, lesson plans you have adjusted to adapt to your students’ needs and all the minds you managed to reach this year. If we are really aware of all the good things we do, we can create more opportunities and multiply ways to realise them. In order to so, I created some activities to do with teachers at the beginning of the year.
It is very easy to focus on failures and under achievements, and that is exactly what most people do. However, recalling achievements and past successes make us feel that if we could do it then, we can always do it.
How to do it: cut out papers in the shape of a petal. Give five petals to each teacher and ask them to focus on five achievements and successes they have achieved during the past year. Ask teachers to make a dog rose and display them on the wall or board. Have teachers read them all and discuss the similarities and differences.
No matter how small the achievements are, keeping a note will prevent teachers from losing perspective and help everyone to plan ahead.
The Three Things exercise allows teachers to keep track of activities they do in the classroom or professional development activities and how they make them feel. It is also an excellent way to prioritise our tasks when planning may be too daunting.
How to do it: ask teachers to write three activities they did in class over the last year and that went well. After that, ask them to write how those activities made them feel. Put them in pairs and have them share the activities and feelings. Most importantly, make them compliment, criticise, and ask questions.
As a follow-up, you can ask teachers to write about the activities that were similar, things they learnt and reflections attached to them for future reference.
Problem solving activities help teachers develop critical thinking, creativity, and be more prepared to meet challenging tasks in the classroom. Besides, problem-solving also keeps the mind engaged and improves the decision-making abilities when faced with a difficult situation in the classroom.
How to do it: ask teachers to write down a difficult situation that they faced in the past year. Do not let them write or share what they did to solve it. Exchange the situations in pairs and ask them to come up with a solution. Pair them up and ask them to compare with what was actually done. Finally, have them discuss if it was the best alternative and what they can do differently in the future.
When verbalising thoughts and discussing with others, teachers may become more aware of the process they have gone through to solve problems in the classroom.
Using a variety of learning sources can help teachers sustain their interest in task-planning and engage more in delivering the main aims in class.
How to do it: ask teachers to write an activity they did in the class last year, without explaining how they did it. In pairs or groups, the other teachers have to suggest what was used to accomplish that activity, such as visual images, slide shows, online activities and other resources. Make teachers write a list of resources they actually used and how they can do it differently in the future.
A myriad of learning sources can make the class more exciting and invite creativity in the whole learning procedure.
When we listen to feedback of our peers and mentors and let them play the role of an honest mirror, we may see things from a different point of view.
How to do it: in pairs, have teachers share a classroom activity they think did not go well or as planned during the last year. Ask their peer to give open, honest, critical, and objective perspectives.
Teachers may see that a situation which they considered a failure was in fact a successful activity.
Technology is developing so fast that many teachers can feel behind or isolated when they believe that other teachers and students know so much more than they do. We need to give an opportunity to learn and share knowledge within our teaching community.
How to do it: teachers make a list of equipment they would like to use, apps they have heard of but have not tried and techniques they could use but have never had the opportunity to do so. Collect the lists and put each idea on a separate piece of paper. On the paper, have space for names of those people who can teach how to use the equipment and space for names of those who want to learn. Stick the papers on the walls around the room and invite teachers to wander around, adding their names to where they can teach how to do an activity and where they want to learn. After studying the papers, you have the beginnings of a series of practical teacher training sessions for the New Year led by the experts – the teachers – themselves.
Happy Creative 2020!