It’s been fun passing on some tips over the last few months. I hope I’ve managed to remind you of some old ideas, and provide you with a few new ones too. Whilst some of the tips have been ideas-oriented, some have centred around raising awareness of yourself as a teacher: your role, your strategies, your potential. Often the tips have been small, but bringing into focus things that we do without really questioning, such as how you monitor or respond to learners.
It seems appropriate to finish on a tip related to your own self-development. Here are just one or two simple ideas that I have used to ensure my own continued development over the years.
• Discussion with colleagues is an invaluable way to get new ideas and angles. You could formalise this by meeting regularly simply to discuss what ideas have worked and what haven’t; how you like to teach X; problems encountered, etc.
• Annotate your lesson plans and write down a few summary sentences at the end, saying what went well and what did not (presuming you keep and reuse some of your plans). Despite the fact that your lesson plan seems to pulsate with life at the time, it’s difficult to remember precisely what happened when you want to reuse and adjust it!
• Use a notebook or ‘diary’ as a self-reflection technique. Comment on which elements of a lesson you thought went well and why, and also less successful aspects. Include an achievable personal action plan in response to problems, where appropriate. This cultivates a kind of ‘self-discussion’. It’s amazing how much clearer things start to become, how strategies start to be made, via this medium.
• Observe a colleague, even if it’s just for 40 minutes, and invite them to observe in return. If you feel uneasy about this, start with 20 minutes and assign your observer a specific observation task, eg sometimes I think my task set-up is messy so …