For many of us here in the UK it’s half term this week. It’s come around pretty quickly, though hopefully you’ve managed to make this short half term a productive one. The end of each half term can be a great time to reflect on what you’ve learnt in the last few weeks and to decide on your personal learning objectives for the weeks ahead. Taking just a few minutes to ask yourself the following questions – and answer honestly – will help you to start the new half term focussed.
What was your biggest achievement this half term?
When looking back over the past half term it is vital that we remember to celebrate our strengths as well as considering any weaknesses. Think about what went really well this half term and how this came about. What lessons can be taken away from this success and applied to your teaching next half term?
What was the biggest challenge you faced this half term? How will you overcome this challenge next half term?
We face challenges every single day in the classroom. But usually when you think back over a half term, something will stand out in your memory as the key challenge or obstacle you’ve had to overcome. Whether it’s disruptive behaviour, teaching a specific part of the syllabus or working with a difficult colleague, it’s important to use half term to take stock and think about how you can approach challenging circumstances next term in order to move the situation forwards.
What were your teaching strengths this half term? How can these strengths be used to boost other areas?
What have you done consistently well this half term? If there’s one area of your teaching that you feel you’ve really got licked in the last few weeks, think about how you might be able to apply this skill or knowledge to other aspects of your teaching.
Which areas of your teaching could be more effective?
As well as those areas that have gone well, inevitably there will be areas of your teaching which have room for improvement. After all – we’re all learning all the time. Be honest with yourself and identify a few key areas that you would like to work on next half term.
How do you plan to become more effective in these areas next half term?
Once you’ve worked out what you’re planning to improve, think about how you’re going to improve it. Try and be specific. Do you need to attend a training course, be mentored by a colleague, read around the subject, observe a colleague teaching etc.
How will you know that the changes you make have had the desired impact?
At the end of next half term, when you’re reflecting on whether you’ve achieved your aims you’ll be in a much better position to give a definitive yes or no if you make your targets measurable. Think now about what success will look like – then you’ll be able to celebrate it if you achieve it and you’ll also know that you need to continue to work on that area if you’re find you’re still falling short in a few weeks time.
Did you hit the right work-life balance last term?
This is crucial. Honestly. Was your work-life balance on target this term or did it go a bit skewiff? We can all manage to have the occasional hectic half-term but if we’re not careful it can become a habit and before you know it a whole school year has passed by and you’ve barely drawn breath. Taking time out is important if you want to be at your best in the classroom. Think about it and if the balance is wrong, think what you can do to redress it.
What is your longer term teaching goal and how are you working towards it?
Sometimes it can feel that our key goal each day is to get to 4pm in one piece. We all have days like that but we can’t afford to have days like that every day unless we have no plans to progress. Instead, it’s important when we get some breathing space to take a step back and think about our medium or long term goals. Maybe you’re aiming to become a head of department, or take on some teaching and leadership responsibilities, or you’d like to run a start up a dance club. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, what matters is that you have clear goals and that you’re working steadily towards them.
What will you do this half term to take you closer to your longer term teaching goal?
Think specifically what you will do next half term to take you that little bit closer to your longer term goal. Planning is half of the battle. The other half is finding a spare moment in the day to carry out what you’ve planned – but I promise you, that’s a whole heap more likely if you know what you’re aiming to achieve!
Good luck – oh and don’t forget to have a break as well! Happy half term.