Richard McCully

New (school) year resolutions

Improve my board work, use time more efficiently and avoid last minute rushes.

With the new school year less than a week away it’s time to make some new (school) year resolutions. I’m sure some will get thrown out of the window straight away but hopefully at least a few I’ll work on.

Work more with others

I want to work more with other teachers both at my school and in my network. I think I can share ideas and materials with them and also I can get knowledge and resources from others too.

I’ve always tried to do this but it failed due to a lack of planning or not finding the right people to work with. However, this year I’ve got a plan. On Thursday I’ll either speak to or email a handful of people and try to set up times and places for us to meet and share ideas. I’m hopeful I can learn a lot from this process.

Use my time more efficiently 

Last school year I found myself with a lot of dead time when it came to planning. I either gave myself too much time or not enough. 

I may even make a schedule for myself where certain days / times are reserved for planning specific classes. I’ll then really focus on those classes to get the most out of my time.

I also have the bad habit of arriving at work and spending an hour or so reading football news. I love to read opinion pieces and match reports but it does distract me. I’ll be trying to cut back on that for sure.

Find the technology balance 

We recently had a debate at our school over the benefits and drawbacks of technology in the classroom. I’m still not sure if I use technology just for the sake of it. I plan to review my use of IT in the classroom and throughout the term see if I was wasting my time using gadgets or if I should be using more. This leads nicely into… 

Improve my board work 

I’m lucky to have a traditional whiteboard and an interactive whiteboard in my classroom. The interactive version gets most of my attention as I can type and the students don’t have to try understand my handwriting.

Whilst the technology is great, I’d love to be better using a traditional whiteboard and as such want to focus on this. During the past year we had a training session which helped. The problem is there never seems to be enough whiteboard pens in my classrooms when I want to use them. Either the other teachers are hording them or I need to go and take a few hundred for the year and keep them on me at all times!

I think building in using the whiteboard in my lesson plan will help with this a lot.

Avoid last minute rushes

I find myself rushed off my feet in the last couple of weeks every term. Perhaps that’s just a normal teacher thing though…

This year I want that to be different. I know now everything that needs to be done throughout the year and will start each process a little earlier. Perhaps an hour extra admin work per week will allow me to really look forward to term breaks rather than be sat at my desk all night filling out paperwork on the final day. 

Too many? 

Perhaps these are too many things to look at doing along with other tasks, training and projects I’ve got this year. I think time management is important and I’ll focus on that for sure. I also think that with a few hours work on Thursday I can instigate some good collaboration throughout the year.

On the flip side I can see myself being involved in last minute rushes because there will always be something coming up that I forgot.

Whatever happens, it’s always exciting to start the new year. I’m looking forward to getting back to work on Wednesday!

 If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country  

Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand. 

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I'm 100% behind Tech in the classroom, it can save me time and the kids seem to enjoy the differentiation if nothing else. It needs to be done right, not mindless Kahoot topics on an ongoing basis.

Give me a big fat pipe, a fully approving HoD and I'm off to the races. I could run both RW, LS as well as a critical thinking, SAT prep and Lit courses off EdTech sites. Books are static. Old textbooks are the death of learning. Bill Gates agrees, less the hyperbole.

I see few reasons to use whiteboards unless you're doing something very interactive and in the moment. Even for LS, toss the guidelines up, do some splanin', divide the pairs / groups and off you go.

PowerPoint which you can refine over the lesson periods and save forever. Don't like ppts? Throw up a PDF. Rewriting your presentation numerous times just wastes huge amounts of class time. Don't like PowerPoints, learn Prezi or Canva or whatever.

I will readily admit drawn out PowerPoints can be a drag, but so is a teacher endlessly scribbling bits of ephemera on the board with his ass to the class. As soon as your back is turned, you're uninteresting, the lesson stops and mischief starts.

As for a student drawing or printing a rose. I teach English not art, they can put a big black X on the page, get the grammar, vocab right. Reeks of logical fallacy.

By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (12th May 2019)

Sometimes I a teacher an IPad/computer salesman?......... Technology is just memorizing steps/ buttons to press.

Education is about thinking and using knowledge. It's focus is the thinking / creativity..... It nurtures the mind......

To me tech is just an electronic source of knowledge. Some questionable too. Mastering any software is just memorizing it's steps.

Think about it.....which is better. A child printing a rose from the internet? Or a child learning to hand draw / paint one?
Which is education?

Don't lose focus on the things that matter.

By Leonard Wong Chin San, Bangkok (11th May 2019)

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