6 Goals to Improve Your Teaching in 2019
They say a new year should mean a new you, free of the mistakes and missteps of the last twelve months. We say, it's better to grow than restart. To stride boldly forward with the knowledge that, even when you did get it wrong, you learned. So, in 2019, our goal is to help your teaching grow.
We've started by improving the way teachers access our online resources. If you're a member of the Healthy Schools Programme, log in to your portal to check out the new dashboard. If you're not, click to find out how we're boosting health and wellbeing in primary schools across the UK.
With these tips, you can make sure your teaching benefits pupils' brains and bodies in 2019.
1. Embrace the Active Classroom
This year, the biggest change to your teaching environment should be the level of physical activity it accommodates. Most kids are suffering from a serious lack of movement. 1 in 3 do less than half the recommended daily amount (60mins) of exercise.
Adding movement to lessons improves memory and focus, so there are no downsides to 'activating' your teaching. Our Movement of the Day videos are specially designed for classroom use. With each mini workout, pupils get 5-10mins of exercise and a dance routine to have fun with in their spare time. Click to watch a sample video.
2. Be Patient with Parents
Whether it's home activities or healthy lunches, there will always be parents who struggle. In recent years, teacher/parent relations in some schools have been strained by increased intervention from educators. For instance, teachers are now expected to check lunchboxes for unhealthy snacks. Some parents get cagey. They feel judged. Things get awkward.
In 2019, try to be patient with parents even when you disagree with their actions. Negative relations prevent progress. Keep your eye on the big picture. The more genial your relationship, the more chances you'll get to influence their views on what their child needs in the way of physical activity, nutrition, motor skills and more. Be kind but be persistent.
3. Speak Carefully About Food
Speaking of healthy food, be careful what you tell your pupils about 'good' and 'bad' choices. Part of the reason children get so confused about nutrition is the prevalence of binary descriptors. Make it clear some foods are unhealthy if eaten in the wrong amounts. Eating a chocolate biscuit can be unhealthy or inconsequential; it depends what else is eaten throughout the day.
Take the time to explain. Answer 'why' questions. Trust pupils (and parents) with the truth. Sugar, fat and salt aren't simply bad or good. It depends on how you treat them. The secret to growing healthy children is not exclusion. It's encouraging kids to independently regulate their own habits. Cos one day, they'll have to go it alone. Share our blog with parents to get kids eating more vegetables.
4. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Contemporary teachers are required to play diverse roles; they're educators, counsellors, lunchbox inspectors, fitness coaches, development experts, even surrogate carers. School workloads are getting heavier, so look for tools that streamline teaching and its many administrative responsibilities.
Embrace digital tools and resources, as they automate record keeping, task assignments, attainment monitoring, report creation and lots of other key tasks. Our Healthy Schools Programme, for example, systemises data relating to the health, fitness and wellbeing of pupils. From one shared portal, teachers can manage a multitude of PE, PSHE and sports based goals and projects.
5. Shake Up Your Teaching Routines
Change isn't always simple, especially when there are so many people to answer to. From parents to your headteacher, governors, OFSTED inspectors and the pupils themselves, everybody has an opinion. So, you might prefer to try little changes. Once per week or month, introduce something different to your classroom.
It could be five minutes of movement before maths to see if pupils settle easier after a burst of activity. How about bringing fresh fruit into class for kids to smell, touch and taste? You could have a dance together at the end of the day. Or experiment with dynamic teaching techniques like interactive quizzes, activity checklists and 'out of seat' games.
6. Remember to Take Care of...YOU!
Last but not least, there's one more person who needs time, love and care. You. We know you're busy safeguarding the health and happiness of pupils, but don't forget to nurture yourself. Wherever possible, keep work and personal lives separate. It won't always be practical, but you should recognise the importance of self-care.
Make your classroom a positive place not just for your pupils, but also for yourself. It's a long countdown to the summer term. Pause when you need it. Breathe deep. Teach young people how to care for their wellbeing by valuing your own.