In a curriculum that is so incredible dense with content, how do you find the inspiration to be creative, when you feel the pressure to 'check off boxes'"?
This is a conversation that has plagued my classroom for a few weeks now and one that probably happens around this time every year. Students are tired and disinterested, teachers are exhausted. Report writing time has come to a close, the marking is finished and all of a sudden you are faced with the reality that your terms work has not been nearly as exciting or interesting as you thought it would be at terms beginning.
There is such great expectation on teachers. The Australian National Curriculum tells you what you need to teach. No longer is there the freedom to chase ideas, or to run with a concept that gets you bursting with excitement and with that comes the risk of losing your creativity. Time is precious. In schools everywhere time is of the essence and in a school like ours the interruptions to teaching time are unfathomable. Trying to tick all the boxes, trying to cover all the curriculum requirements while providing for the huge range of student needs within our classrooms leaves teachers at risk of pulling out the same learning activities and lessons as all the years that have come before.
Informal discussions in the mornings over coffee are a common occurrence around my desk. The same stories term in, term out, year in, year out, I’ve lost my mojo, I’m bored, I didn’t get to do any of the exciting things I had wanted to do this term. There just wasn’t enough time.
In 2015 I must have completed about 200 hours of professional development. From courses on critical and creative thinking, attending multiple conferences on digital technology and global collaboration and conferences on student wellbeing. I ended the 2015 school year with a wealth of new knowledge and so many exciting ideas, yet here I am half way through 2016 in a funk. Why? I think because with new ideas come the need for time. Time to wrap your own head around the ideas, the strategies or the technologies. Time to prepare. Time to implement them with your students, as we all know something “new” needs time to learn.
Then the big question must be “what do we do about it?” How do we find that spark again? The one that spurred us on to become a teacher in the first instance?
I think acknowledging that you’re exhausted is the first step. It is challenging for any teacher to feel enthusiastic when you are running on empty. Talking to your colleagues is a must. Reflect on what you’ve just done, what worked, what didn’t. Throw some ideas around and don’t be afraid of trying something new and when you find that idea that all of sudden gets you talking at a million miles a second… write it down and “Just Do It”! After all, you are the teacher and you know what will work for your students!
How do you reinvigorate yourself and your teaching when you find yourself in a funk? Please share your ideas in the blog comments or on our Facebook page. Let’s help each other, be the best versions of ourselves that we can be!