“I’ll be more organised!”, “I will never take students’ tests home!“, “I won’t let the admin stuff pile up!”, “I will never check my email on Sunday!“. Rings the bell? New Year’s Resolutions! Oh yeah, been there, done that, got the T-shirt. But, why not start again and this time think about something more achievable and sustainable. Something that would rejuvenate our teaching and re-energise students’ learning. Something that would let us work smarter not harder. Something that would allow us to provide the best quality 21st century education without compromising the quality of our personal lives and well-being. Time for real New Year’s RES(V)OLUTIONS!
Clean your work-space and go paperless
WHY – because you will be less distracted and less stressed. You will work more efficiently and in a more relaxed way.
HOW? Start with deciding what you really need. Prioritise and get rid of books and folders with materials for photocopying that you haven’t used for a while. GOING PAPERLESS will help clean and de-clutter your workspace. If you use coursebooks and you have your classroom equipped with a computer with internet access, you will probably have e-versions of coursebooks installed on your machine. If you don’t use course books, use numerous authentic materials – leaflets, articles from newspapers or magazines, or make the most of some fantastic Internet sources. Keep materials for photocopying in the cloud – you can print them any time if necessary. If possible, collect student evidence as an e-portfolio.
Examples of useful websites:
For reading: ReadWorks, reading exercises on EnglishClub.com, interactive reading practice on National Geographic Learning.
For listening: free online listening lessons on English Listening Rocks, listening and discussions materials and lessons based on TED Talks, fantastic listening materials from British Council on these website – website 1, website 2.
For writing: University of Bristol’s websites with tonnes of exercises improving writing, hundreds of worksheets on English For Everyone website (please check copyright).
For grammar: grammar exercises grouped according to the level in English Learning Centre on University of Victoria, Grammar Reference from British Council, English Grammar or Daily Grammar.
For vocabulary: vocabulary website from British Council, EnglishClub’s website or vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation activities on Learning Chocolate.
Flip your classroom and blend
WHY – because you will be using classroom time more productively going deeper into the material your students will familiarise with beforehand.
HOW? Start with deciding what you want to “flip” and/or what is “flippable” and what is not. Check “Four Pillars of Flip“. Ask students to research the topic and take notes/write questions. Use videos pre-recorded by yourself (see a post about screen recording tools below) or chose from a range of videos from platforms such as Khan Academy, PBS channel, or TeacherTube . Take a blended learning approach and use platforms such as Thinglink or Blendspace ( see the example) to engage students.
Never stop learning
WHY – to keep your professional skills and knowledge up-to-date and to explore the areas of your interests.
HOW? Make the most of numerous courses offered by platforms such as MOOC (see the post below), Microsoft, Udemy, Adobe or FutureLearn.
- CPD courses from TES
- CPD from Nexus
- Teacher development ideas from Cambridge.org.
Add mindfulness to your classroom
WHY – because it improves cognitive performance, develops resilience to stress, boosts overall happiness and, as a result, improves interaction between class members.
HOW? Start with yourself (see a set of nice short mindfulness exercises for teachers here). Help your students expand vocabulary related to feelings and emotions (vocabulary wheel) or a fantastic feelings chart on this website. Let them improve their breathing and listening skills at the same time (three types of breathing). Encourage them to work on their writing through keeping a mindfulness journal in either an online form (e.g. Penzu) or as a hard copy. See this beautiful journal template from Calm here. Use images as speaking prompts for example inspirational drawings and words of wisdom from Charlie Mackesy’s “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” (see the gallery below). Use some of the 320 reading worksheets from Free Mindfulness Project. and finally – bring chocolate and do this fantastic chocolate mindfulness activity from TED Talk (see below).
- The free mindfulness project with numerous free resources including interactive courses.
- 22 mindfulness exercises from Positive Psychology.
- Worksheets, videos and interactive tools from Therapist Aid.
- Posters and quizzes from Mindful Teachers.
- Lots of printables form Happier Mind Journal.
- Printables and lesson plans from Education.com.
Use technology and develop digital citizenship
WHY – to prepare students for a digital future
HOW? – There are 5 categories of essential digital skills for life and work: communicating, handling information and content, transacting, problem solving and being safe and legal online. Start with embedding the above skills into the content and the way you teach. Make use of technology in teaching and learning. Let your students communicate, collaborate and share online. Encourage to find solutions using digital tools. See more in the UK guidance here.
WHY – to address students’ various needs, learning experience or learning preferences and to make their learning more productive and more enjoyable at the same time.
HOW? Differentiate when there is a need for differentiation. You can differentiate the content, materials, levels of the task, instructions, etc. Flexible-pace learning, collaborative learning, progressive learning or rotation station are examples of differentiation that you use from time to time. Do it more often from now on.
Websites such as ReadWorks or One Stop English offer reading comprehension activities at a range of levels.
Rotation station and rotation lab/centre
Lab/centre rotation: students work independently in a computer lab working and then transfer to a class to reinforce what they learned (or the other way round).
Station rotation: students work either independently or in pairs/groups on a task/set of task and transfer to another task/tasks/project after finalising the 1st stage.
See more on Rotation station and other types of blended learning involving differentiation https://sites.google.com/site/blendclass/station-rotation
Think "less is more"
WHY – because by teaching less you let your students learn more.
HOW? Decide what to cut. You don’t have to “cover” stuff. Instead of numerous reading texts, writing tasks and never ending assessments, simplify your programme by clarifying and prioritising the goals, reducing the material and focusing more on teaching in a more “project based” way. PBL, Task Based approach or Inquiry Learning give students an opportunity to engage more by “digging deeper” (research) and applying their skills and knowledge in a more authentic and interactive way.
Resources on “Less is More”
WHY – “sharing is caring” :)
HOW? Share ideas, resources, inspirations etc. with students and colleagues. Use social media or traditional face-to-face communication. Write a blog!
My favourite platform for sharing things including timetable, lesson plans, materials, homework and useful links, is PLANBOOK. Below, teacher and student views in Planbook.