The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom


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7 Tips for Returning to Teaching After Maternity Leave

Returning to Teaching After Maternity Leave - The Creative Teacher Project

Hello, dear friends! It has been quite some time since I last posted. You may have guessed by this post’s title, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, but rather I’ve been spending the last seven months raising my beautiful baby boy, Eamon. I have utterly adored my time out of teaching (heck, my career is based about taking care of kids, so having my own is wonderful!), but these precious months together are drawing to a close, and I am now preparing for my return to work.

I was feeling a little burnt out after my last year of teaching, having been through my first OFSTED and spending most of my second year in Primary pregnant. Yet while my responsibilities have never been as great as they are now, I am really feeling excited about getting back in the classroom. Apprehensive, yes, but motivated as well.

In order to allay some of my worries about going back to work, I’ve reached out to a couple of teacher groups I am a part of for some advice – I asked what their top tips would be when returning to work. I thought I’d set out a few of the ones that felt right for me, and then in a few months come back and update you with the ones that really made a difference.

Get Prepared the Night Before

Obvious perhaps, but I have a feeling this will be my saviour. From nursery bags, to clothes and breakfast/lunches, set them all out the night before and then you can whip round in the morning without the mental burden of trying to remember anything.

The 10 Minute Alarm Trick

I love this tip. Set yourself 3 alarms, each ten minutes apart. The first 10 are for dossing about on your phone, checking whether the world has blown up and your favourite Insta stories (or whatever floats your boat!). The second 10 are to get yourself dressed (in the clothes you handily laid out the night before), makeup, brushing your teeth and general getting ready. The final 10 are for changing and dressing your baby. Then you put your breakfast in your bag, check you have your car, house and school keys and off you go! Personally, I’d prefer to get up a bit earlier so that I have a more leisurely start to the day, and let’s be honest, my son rises at 5:50am without fail, so a lie in is a foreign concept to me these days. But the principle is the same. Don’t rely on your innate sense of time in the mornings. Get an alarm to shriek you into submission.

The Slow Cooker is Your Friend

This came up a lot – batch cook and use the slow cooker! Someone also said ‘beans on toast on Wednesdays and fish and chip Fridays’. This is something I can definitely get on board with.

Finish on a Thursday

I’m only going to be working four days a week, but I really like the concept of this tip. Essentially, plan your week so that major tasks are finished before Friday, so that you can minimise marking before the weekend. Use your Fridays to repeat certain concepts, address misconceptions and have short activities that perhaps don’t need onerous recording methods or much marking!

Be Organised – ha ha ha…

If I am entirely honest, I am naturally a planner, but not necessarily a follow-througher. I have the best of intentions to be an organised person, and I usually start out well, but often fade out into disarray before the term is over. But this is no longer really an option for me if I want to stay this side of sane. My favourite class organisation tips were to try and get your planning done a week in advance (with wiggle room to adjust to your class – they may move more slowly or quickly!) so that if you need to take care of a poorly child your lessons can be easily covered. Another tip from an American teacher was to have a couple of standalone absence plans completed, for exactly the same reasons!

Assess as You Go

Mark books in the sessions where you are able to, update targets as you go and use your lunchtime to mark. I am guilty of the lunch time race around the photocopier more often than I would like, so this is going to have to be a bit of a mindset change for me, to ensure my afternoon sessions are set up in the mornings.

Done is Better than Perfect

The workload will always be there. Choose a leaving time and stick to it. Wise words from women who have been here before me. If you’re anything like me, you like things to look good as well as work well, and frankly, it’s something we get asked to work on! But I’m going to relax my standards, and pour my time and energy into getting it done. Then I am out the door to pick up my baby.

~

So there you have it, seven tips I’ve had from teachers who have gone back to the classroom after maternity leave. I’ve got a couple of months yet before I cross the threshold again, but I’ll head back here once I’ve got my head in the game and let you know which tips were the most helpful!

Have you returned to teaching after maternity leave? What tips would you like to share?

 

 

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It’s Not Going to be Easy, It’s Going to be Worth It.

Truth-for-Teachers-LogoThese are the final words that Angela Watson, of the Truth for Teachers podcast, leaves her listeners with each week. A former teacher and now educational consultant, Watson has become widely known for her management ideas for teachers, and especially for her (totally amazing sounding) 40 Hour Work Week Club. Her podcast is fantastic, and that’s why I thought I would share it with you today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good inspirational podcast as much as the next person, but I do find that many of them are just that – inspirational, and not that practical. Sometimes when you’re looking for advice, or need a kick up the backside to even get in the car to go to work on a Monday morning, you need concrete suggestions on how to make the work week a little easier. Truth for Teachers is just that.

I’ve had episodes that have given me 9 Classroom Organisational Tips for the New Year, and even 5 Ways to Turn a Worksheet into a Collaborative Critical Thinking Activity. If these titles don’t get your teacher-nerd juices flowing, then I’m sorry to say, nothing will! It just happens to be incredibly handy that she posts a new episode each Monday morning, at peak “New week new me” time.

I encourage you all to go and have a listen, and maybe even a trawl through the archives to see if there’s anything that can help your particular situation.

We all know that teaching isn’t easy, but it’s podcasts like Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers that remind us that it’s absolutely worth it.

 

 

*This is an independent post and in no way affiliated with Truth for Teachers. I just love the darn podcast

 


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Monday Provocation: A New Beginning!

Summer 2015 The Creative Teacher Project

Quite a bit of change around these parts this year! Not only did I move back to Kent, start my first teaching job in the UK, renovate my house and get married (yay!), I also made a positive but significant career move. Pals, I’m heading back to Primary School!

Something different for today’s Monday Provocation: I’m so happy to announce that I’ll be taking my first Year 4 class, and I truly could not be more excited! It will be a challenge to move from secondary drama teaching to the full spectrum of Primary education, but one that I’m going to tackle with a smile on my face. The team at Wainscott Primary is full of enthusiasm and passion for their jobs and for their students, and are excited by the myriad opportunities that technology can bring to our classrooms.

Does that sound right up my street, or does that sound right up my street? It’s definitely full systems go at The Creative Teacher Project!

I’d also like to take the opportunity to say ‘hello!’ to any of my new parents who have looked up the blog – thank you so much for taking the time to connect! I’d love for you to stick around and comment where you feel inspired to, and to be a part of the wonderful education community that WordPress is now home to. From the bottom of my heart, welcome, and I so look forward to knowing you better as the year progresses!


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A New Way to Think About Dance

I am a qualified dance teacher, but it’s not something I talk about a lot, because to be honest my confidence in my dance skills is at an all time low. I haven’t danced properly for a long time, and it’s easy to feel as though the world of dance has moved on so far that it’s impossible to catch up.

I have, however, recently been going to several productions of the Royal Ballet in London, and have been incredibly privileged to see Woolf Works, which was made up of three dance pieces inspired by the works of Virginia Woolf. It was truly wonderful.

The choreographer was Wayne McGregor, who I am coming to realise is one of the greats of choreography. I was delighted to discover this TED Talk by him recently.

What do you think? Do you teach dance? Is this the kind of approach you go for? It’s got my brain thinking about dance in ways it hasn’t done for years, and, dare I say it, I’m a bit excited!


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5 Things University Doesn’t Tell You About Your Final Prac

5 things

Hey guys. So I missed my weekly round-up for weeks 3 & 4 of my prac, and so instead of delving deep into the past I thought I would do a list instead of some of the things I have learnt so far. These would have been great to know a few months ago!

1) You need to cancel your life

Teaching is really tiring. Like, the most tiring thing you’ve ever done (assuming you have no kids). You’re constantly answering questions, reminding students not to call out, putting on your best ‘teacher voice’ for your mentor teacher and planning a week’s worth of lessons for students you hardly know. On top of that, you have more work to do when you get home. Cut yourself some slack, and clear your diary for the next seven weeks. Your friends will totally understand, and that way you can avoid being a total flake when you wake up realising there is no way in God’s green earth you can face getting out of bed today. You can thank me later.

2) You will feel like a total fraud – and that’s ok

Believe it or not, you’re kind of supposed to feel like a fish out of water. Practicum isn’t just about impressing your supervisor and getting a great mark, let alone practicing teaching. It’s a sink or swim test. You’re in totally new circumstances, with kids who aren’t really even your students, with other staff members who can be either totally lovely or kind of cold, and you have to somehow work out how to do this. It’s ok to cry after your IT induction, I promise. If teaching is for you, you’ll get into the classroom and it will feel like home. All the other stuff, the planning and the remembering of a million names, will come.

3) Students misbehave for real teachers too

Being employed in a school does not necessarily mean students cease to muck around (I mean this with a lot of love, of course!). Classroom management strategies are amazing, but at the same time, feel free to chuck them out the window if thinking about constantly incorporating them is causing you heaps of stress. What you need to focus on here is surviving. These kids don’t know you, and they may have had a prac teacher earlier in the year too. They’re tired and they don’t always want to invest in someone who won’t be there next year. Don’t take it personally, but do try and get through each lesson calmly. You will come good eventually!

4) Teaching is just like every other job

Staff politics? Check. Difficult personalities? Check. Kooky and wonderful colleagues? Check. Unreasonable expectations? Check. Loads of boring paperwork? Check. Teachers are not magical fairy beings, they’re real people (believe it or not) and the same issues come up in a school staffroom that come up in every staffroom in every industry in every country. Be prepared for it to feel surprisingly familiar…

5) Teaching is unlike any other job

See what I did there? Yep, teaching is ‘hella awesome’ (to use the technical term) and it is different to almost any other industry I have had the pleasure to work in. University doesn’t prepare you for that. It sure as hell doesn’t prepare you for standing in the wings on Variety Night, watching your gorgeous year 7 girls absolutely smash their Grease Tribute Act. No one tells you to prepare for your heart to swell with pride for girls you hardly know, and for you to feel that same rush of adrenaline for their performance, that you once felt for your own. Being a part of children’s lives is a huge privilege, one that I have been reminded of each time a student has said ‘Hi Ms Froudist’ as I’ve walked by. It’s pretty darn great.

I’d love to hear about your prac experience, whether you’re a seasoned teacher or a newbie like me! Did you enjoy yourself? Was teaching in the real world totally different to your practicum? Let me know in the comments if you can.


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Au Revoir University, Bonjour Practicum!

Just a short and sweet post today. I’ve handed in my last assignment ever for my graduate diploma, said goodbye to some truly amazing lecturers and fellow student teachers. It’s done and dusted, I’ve learned all the theory I’m ever going to learn at university, and now’s it’s time for some practical work. Tomorrow is the BIG DAY when I’ll be starting my longest and final prac placement. I’m apprehensive but excited, and am spending today brushing up on my low key responses and doing the all important laundry, making sure all my teacher-appropriate clothes are clean!

For any of you out there about to start their placements, I wish you the best of luck, the funniest students and the most supportive mentor teachers. This year has whizzed by, It’s hard to believe. I’ll be updating the blog throughout the next 7 weeks, and hopefully some of you will find my experiences helpful, or at least in some way relatable.

What a year. Wish me luck for the last part!