It’s the time of year when the once faint glimmer of Year 11 gained time is now a blazing light for many teachers. Despite best intentions, it is all too easy to let these gained hours slip away and to have little left to show for them other than a rearranged desk drawer and some alphabetised folders.
To help ensure that gained time means what is says on the tin, science teacher Bex Owen has shared five invaluable tips and ideas about how to make these hours as productive as possible over the next few weeks.
1. List the Little Things
Bex is a lover of lists. At this point in the academic year, Bex strongly advocates making a list of the niggling tasks that you have wanted to sort out during the year but have pushed back due to more high-profile jobs. Taking time now to tweak resources that you use frequently can pay dividends in the future. Examples could include making that slightly overloaded PowerPoint a bit slicker, finding a better video to support a commonly tricky topic, or creating a bank of quick questions ready to use throughout the year.
2. Tidy Classrooms Means Tidy Minds
During last week’s INSET here at Durrington, we spoke about the importance of information being presented to students in a clean and tidy manner to aid long-term retention. Bex extends the same principle to her classroom space: This is the time to reorganise and clear out the detritus from the year. A familiar but fresh space in September sends a clear message that you are ready to build on previous learning and move forward.
3. Strategic Seating
Bex suggests that, as soon as they are available, you should scrutinise your new class lists and start devising your seating plans. It is easier to do this essential task now rather than in the new term for two main reasons. Firstly, irrespective of how well you organise and plan ahead, it is inevitable that some jobs will only pop up once you are back in school in September. Seating plans, on the other hand, can be sorted, stored and ready to go. Secondly, make use of your colleagues. Talk to the current teachers of students that you do not know to find out what works (and what doesn’t) for them. If there are names that trigger a red light somewhere in your consciousness, try to find this student in a lesson where they are successful and identify what is working well for them that you can transfer to your class next year.
4. Find Your Form
If are taking on a new form group next year, it can be extremely beneficial to go and visit them now. As with the seating plans, this gives you the opportunity to observe how the group works and get a sense of the dynamic. It also gives the students the chance to meet you as their tutor before they come back in September, which is one less change for you to manage in the new year.
5. Keep it Varied
Although your official school timetable may have a few more blank spaces than usual, this does not mean that you should allow your mind to go blank as well. Bex recommends using your planner to slot in when you will complete the different jobs you have allocated to your gained time. This will help to ensure that you are using your time efficiently, and will also mean that you can mix up the tasks and avoid the hours aimlessly drifting by with no goal or objective in mind – this is what the summer holidays are for.