Today, after a week of intense planning meetings, teaching, reflection, late nights spent blogging, participating in professional PD via twitter chat, trying to support my team in my role as LTL, trying to support my students academic, social and emotional needs, make phone calls to parents, attending other meetings, I dropped the ball.
I fell into the trap of trying to finish an important piece of administration while my students were left to independently reflect on their week. Instead I should have been conferencing with those who find this a challenging task and encouraging those who were finding it hard to push through the obvious reflective statements so they could gain a deeper insight into themselves as learners.
I haven’t read their reflections yet and I’m proud of them for giving it a go, but I feel if I had been more present then our day would have ended on a better note as some lost focus and started to fool around. This distracted others and the reflective mood was lost and I tried valiantly to get them back on board but it was too late. I had not set them up for success as this was only the second time we were trying to reflect in this way.
This got me thinking again about teachers being set up for success by their leaders. Having different leaders each wearing their hat can be very challenging for the classroom teacher. Each leader has their agenda. And even though we are aiming to be transdisciplinary in our approach to teaching the curriculum, we still have to deal with the demands of the Australian curriculum. In addition we are trying to get to know our students, build a supportive, caring and engaging learning environment, take into account students’ learning needs and differentiate for that, get to know our students emotional needs and work out the best way we can support them. As it’s the start of the school year we are also dealing with a lot of assessment and all the hours of analysis that goes with that. Even with many years of teaching experience under my belt and a burning passion for teaching and learning, I feel overwhelmed and exhausted and its only week 4.
Everybody’s goals are relevant and important, but only one person can make these goals a reality – the general studies teacher. Leaders can forget how much the General Studies teacher is trying to accomplish- especially at the start of the year. This takes a lot of pleasure out of the start to a new school year and can create a lot of unnecessary tension.
Leaders don’t always set their teachers up for success.
We need to find a way to manage intense times of the school year better. We need to prioritise our goals for the first month and not let other things get in the way. They can wait. I believe the start of the year is about establishing a culture of learning with our students. The start of the year is for creating a wonderful learning environment.
How do other school leaders manage the first month of the school year? What are their priorities? Are their teachers feeling overwhelmed and exhausted too?