Working Smarter, Not Harder

22 Feb

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This gem is often discussed in many management books but I wonder do we real follow it?  How often are we still in class marking papers or preparing lessons when really we should home. It is the nature of teachers to get the job done but to move from good to great, in the word of Collins (2001) it is important for school leaders to look after the mental state of their staff and themselves alike. Some of the points made below may get you through the day with a little more fuel in the tank.

The following is from a piece I read in 2012 that I wanted to share this week.

Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching Jackson, Robyn R. (2009) Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Principle 1: Start where your students are

Principle 2: Know where your students are going

Principle 3: Expect your students to get there

Principle 4: Support your students

Principle 5: Use effective feedback

Principle 6: Focus on quality not quantity

Principle 7: Never Work Harder Than Your Students

(Chapter 7 – pp. 170-191) – This chapter is well worth reading in full.

We need to be clear about what is our work and what is the students’ work, and make sure that we do our work and they do theirs. See this web link for a list which divides the classroom work.

Our responsibility is to teach and support. Their responsibility is to learn. We must not solve problems for them but help them acquire the tools they need to solve the problems on their own.

Set up systems so that students are able to do more on their own. E.g. If we want students to keep organised notes, then we need to set up a routine for note-making and the way to organise them.

Students must be held accountable for doing their work by having logical consequences.

Perhaps you could work with students to establish clear classroom routines for the following:

  • Homework – how it will be collected, how students find out what it is,
  • Late Work – how students hand it in and what the consequences will be,
  • Absences – how students will find out what work they missed, when and how they will need to hand it in,
  • Assessment Grades – how students will track their performance,
  • Beginning of Class – how will class begin, where should students be, what counts as late,
  • End of Class – how will students be dismissed, how should students leave the classroom,
  • Attendance – how you will track, what consequences will be in place for lateness/ unexcused absences,
  • Note-making – what format should be used, how the notes will be stored and used ,
  • Tests – how the classroom will be arranged, what kind of student interaction is appropriate, how to ask questions, how to hand in the tests,
  • Discussions – how will students participate, what type of participation is appropriate, who will facilitate, how will discussions be facilitated and
  • Transitions – how will assignments be passed back, how will students move from one activity to the next.

How do you balance your use of rewards and sanctions, and are the rewards you’re using really having a positive effect on student behaviour? Dave Stott provides some practical tips. In the link below.
Rewards: What really works?

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