I recently watched a brilliant video by #forteachers (I shared one of their videos about Class Dojo earlier in the week) about bad habits that lots of teachers have. It really made me smile, as I recognise my own hangups and those of other teachers I have worked with throughout my career. It got me thinking about some of the things I’m guilty of and how I could break them to become a better, happier teacher. I’m sure I’m not alone and you will be able to recognise some of the things I am about to discuss in your own practise.
So here they are: bad habits I’m trying to quit!
1.Taking behaviour personally.
Even the best behaved classes have off days and it can be very easy to take negative attitudes personally. My immediate thought is usually, “What have I done wrong today?” Are my lessons not engaging enough? Have I been too tough? Have I been too soft? Has the day not been structured enough? And the list goes on. I’m not saying that these questions shouldn’t be asked, because ultimately, my job is to effectively manage behaviour. However, students do need to take responsibility for their actions and should know your expectations and adhere to them. When it gets to the point that you are taking situations as a personal hit and not just a reflection on your practice or student circumstances, then that’s something you need to address.
2.Making resources from scratch.
Again this one should come with a disclaimer. Sometimes it is easier, quicker and more beneficial to make a resource from scratch. Here’s what I mean with this one… As an NQT/ student teacher I had nothing. No twinkl or TES subscription, no access to curriculums, smart notebook, or even text books to help out with planning and resourcing my lessons. Everything had to be created by myself and it was time consuming. Once I qualified, I didn’t have the skills to go and hunt for resources created by others, I just continued to make everything myself. This quickly became impossible as a full time teacher. It took me a good chunk of my career so far to build up a bank of places I could go to, to find resources that have already been created by other, wonderful educators. I’m not saying that I just log on to twinkl and use everything they have; I think that end of the spectrum is also detrimental and makes teachers lazy. When I sit down to resource my lessons, I now have an array of different places I can go to and take inspiration from (including past resources I have created myself) and I adapt these to suit the needs of my class; often pulling sections from different sources to create my own, bespoke resource. It takes less time than starting with a blank sheet and often ends up better than something I could have made on my own. So thank you to all of you who share and post online- you’ve saved me a lot of time and stress!
3. Counting down the days until the end of term.
I noticed this one after reading Happiness by Andy Cope, Shonette Bason and Andy Whittaker (a book I HIGHLY recommend). I think it stems from staff feeling the need to greet other adults in the corridor, but not really knowing what to say. At least once a day, I will hear somebody say the phrase, “Only one week left until half term!” or “Almost home time!”, “Two days ’till Friday!” You get the idea. Why are we wishing our lives away? If our job is so bad that we have to count down every day, week, term; then why are we doing it? It creates such a negative atmosphere, which will surely transfer to the students and affect our working mindset. And I’m very guilty of this one. Not because I am genuinely counting down, but because it’s just something to say. A way to make quick corridor conversation. I’m trying to swap this to more positive phrases for the sanity of others, as well as my own!
4. Reading emails and then immediately forgetting about them.
I do this one all the time! Get an email in the middle of a lesson, or sent to my phone after working hours and I’ll read it, decide it’s not important RIGHT NOW and vow to action it later. But then I forget. Or if it doesn’t require an action, I won’t jot down the information. And then a week down the line, something will be mentioned in a meeting or I’ll be asked for something and I will swear I wasn’t informed only to go back to my emails, see the correspondence and then I’ll have an apology to make. It’s easy to do in such a hectic working environment. It’s probably much better to have emails turned off during busy times until you have a moment to dedicate to reading and acting upon them straight away.
5. Wasting paper.
The amount of paper that gets used in a school is crazy. I see whole stacks of mis printed sheets, abandoned in the photocopying room, ready to be recycled and it makes me so sad! It’s hard to cut down, I know, but I’m starting to really think about what I need to print and what I don’t. Can I have this displayed on the board? Can the pupils share a sheet? Can I reuse a piece of paper? I’m trying to consider these things every time I go to press print to see if I can save. If every teacher did that, it would make a huge difference!
So, those are my bad habits or ‘areas to improve’ (if I use my teacher voice). I’d love to hear what you are trying to get better at and if you have the time, please check out the video below – it’s where I was inspired to create this post and it really is an enjoyable watch!
Until next time,