Welcome to June's noticeboard and welcome to the Early Careers Geography Network!
On this month's noticeboard you will be introduced to the team behind the Early Careers Geography Network and the Ambassadors who represent us. We have an exciting column for 'Geographer of the Month' from the wonderful Kate Stockings. Kate shares her story about what she learnt during the first 3 years of teaching, offering fantastic advice to those in the early stages of their career. Our book of the month for June is The Almighty Dollar by Dhashini David brought to you with a review, links to the curriculum and additional resources and reading material. Additionally, we have a line up of fantastic CPD opportunities for you to engage with this month.
We hope you enjoy reading this month's noticeboard. Tweet us with anything you would like to see for July!
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Visit the Drive
Team #ECGeogNetwork are so excited to welcome you! Gemma, Amy and Olli are the behind-the-scenes team who collate the best of Geography, celebrate the wonderful community and provide a space for early careers teachers to unite, network and grow. Find more information about the team here.
Meet the first #ECGeogNetwork Ambassadors; Becki, Calvin, Danielle, Sophie, Louis, Adam, Georgia, Eve, Madison and Maya! They have been selected for their talents, positivity and generous contributions to the Geography community. Find more information about our Ambassadors here.
What I learnt in My First 3 Years of Teaching
by Kate Stockings
To set the scene, I love teaching. I love sharing my passion for geography, I love watching students progress in their understanding of the world and I love the energy of the young people the we teach. However, let’s not deny that teaching is a hard job. Regardless of what school you’re in the first few years of your teaching career are never going to be easy but here, I want to share a few things that I’ve learnt.
Learn what works for you
Granted, this is easier said than done but is essential for making the job sustainable! In the first 3 years of my career I tweaked my routine continuously and made constant little changes to my systems- always reflecting and thinking about how I could ensure that I was working as efficiently and effectively as possible. Considering the questions below is a good place to start: Do you work better in the morning or afternoon? When do you mark most efficiently? Morning or afternoon? What conditions do you like to work in? What conditions enable you to plan your best lessons? In your free periods (1 hour), what tasks will you focus on? Which can be achieved in an hour? Which need a longer time slot? It took me nearly three years to work out what worked for me but I’m so glad that I have. I’m more efficient at marking in the morning so I arrive at school at 7:30am each morning and, without fail, do a set of marking or preparing feedback before the day starts. Why? Because I hate having it hanging over me- I hate sitting down at 3:30pm and knowing that I’ve got marking to do so, voila, it became a morning task. I know that I need silence and calm to plan lessons and work effectively. Thus, I do a fair amount of work at home or in my classroom- rather than the noisy office. I also know that running is a huge help to clear my head. In my NQT and RQT year when I was planning numerous lessons from scratch, I used to go for a run and find that upon my return, my planning was infinitely quicker! The lessons had formed in my head during the run and the whole process was sped up by recognising that this worked for me. So that’s my first tip: really focus on working out what works for you and stick to it!
Avoid reinventing the wheel
This is repeated time and time again to early career teachers and yet is so often ignored… However, there is of course a balance to be stuck and I think it’s essential that we recognise this. So, don’t reinvent the wheel for the sake of it. There are so many fantastic resources out there that have already been made, already been shared and already proven successful. Find them, use them and love them. I know it can be tempting to spend hours redesigning them and jazzing up the fonts and images but will this really improve the geography of your classroom? Are you really gaining anything by spending hours choosing an alternative font? Or would your time be better spent on improving your geographical understanding of the topic? Yet as I said above, there is a balance. For example, when I first started teaching ALevel geography, I found it really difficult to use other people’s resources. I still do in fact. In order to teach a topic in the depth required at A-Level, I find that I need to have gone through the process of writing resources myself. Yes it’s time consuming and yes at times I may have reinvented the wheel but I think my teaching has been better as a result. So, find the balance. If you’re going to put a huge amount of time into A-Level resource creation, could you magpie more resources at GCSE to save time here?
Keep the enjoyment alive
Again, easier said than done but something that I don’t think we think about enough as teachers. In such a difficult job, it can be easy to lose sight of why we’re doing what we do and keep chugging away- eventually losing our passion and enjoyment of teaching. So, what can you do to avoid this? Is it lesson planning that you love? Then ensure you keep this up and allow yourself time to do this properly amongst everything else.Is it reading around the subject that you love? Make a list of books that you want to read and give yourself some time each day to read. If you’re a form tutor, could you read when they read in the morning for example. For me, I’ve always been passionate about providing extra-curricular activities for students. It’s something that is incredibly important to me and something that I need to do regularly to keep my enjoyment high. I aim to have a few speakers in, competitions running and trips out each term and regardless of how busy I am or how much else is going on, I don’t lose sight of this- it remains a priority. Hopefully these three tips will give you something to think about and reflect on. I’d love to discuss further so please feel free to comment or get in touch via Twitter (@kate_stockings) or email (email@example.com).