Everyday strategies for teachers in 2021

We’re in the third month of the year already! Time flies… when you are having fun, or not. The choice is yours, as the saying goes.

In a previous Teachers’ Blog (January 2021) it was emphasised that ‘The more prepared you are and the more you strategise, the more control you will have over what happens in your classroom, and throughout the academic year’.

The feedback from teachers after having read 4 Strategies to start the new school year right (refresh your memory here) was thought-provoking and downright inspirational.

Take a moment to ponder this:

Norman Davies responded to the closing statement: Make the following your mantra: The future of the world is in my classroom today in the January Teachers’ Blog, by saying: 

Somewhere among our students are future giants in their chosen fields. Will they be obsessed with success and riches, or will they make meaningful change for the poor of our world?

This is something to keep in the back of your mind as you stand in front of your classroom. As a teacher you plant seeds every single day, with the thoughts you think, the words you speak and the actions you take.

Their wisdom and work experience led teachers to suggest more strategies to help the year run smoothly:

1. Create a learning dialogue

According to Norman Davies, our teaching goals often remain the same but the road to them has changed. We still want to cover the curriculum, prepare our Grade 12s for final exams, develop skills, alert students to social ills that need resolving, instil curiosity in the natural world, etc. But how to get there has changed, perhaps forever.

It is thus important to ensure that you are also talking (and writing) to learners about how to learn in this new environment.

Make mention of:

  • The role of attendance in high-school success i.e. be present, even online
  • How a parent/family member can help meet the learner’s goals, e.g. checking homework, securing the learner’s electronic devices overnight and encouraging good attendance
  • The way high schools compile grades in each subject, and how matric assessment marks work
  • The importance of passing all your subjects in high school
  • The benefits of asking older learners to write advice to younger learners on how to manage their high school experience

2. Rethink the way you do things in the classroom

Norman Davies is also of the opinion that given that the road has changed, many of the things teachers do have become redundant; they just don’t fit this new normal.

Online teaching is here to stay, in different formats depending on what the reality of the time demands.

Yet teachers still have to invent how to reach their goals. Habiel Adams feels that teachers have to spend much more time planning, communicating and problem-solving, and also have to learn new skill sets.

Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you in the ‘new normal’, adds Mariechen. Forewarned is forearmed.

Study the revised Annual Teaching Plan documents thoroughly – including assessment schedules – so that you know what your new rhythm and goals should be.

3. Set short-term goals

There is a place – and specific reasons – for long-term and short-term goals.

As many aspects of this academic year remain uncertain, it is even more important to set short-term goals, writes Mariechen Vermeulen.

Compile a list of short, achievable goals on a week-to-week basis, advises Susan Marais. These goals will aid your lesson planning and classroom functionality. It will also help you to feel in control and will keep you motivated to move forward.

Remember the fun saying: You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time! Both Susan Marais and Mariechen Vermeulen agree on this!