Updated: Apr 10, 2021
It’s the one thing ALL teachers battle. How do I fit in all the teaching? There aren’t enough hours in the day.
A teacher’s job could be 24/7, like many other jobs, but we know that’s not attainable and also, no way to live your life!
Yes, there is a lot to cover in the curriculum, but the good news is that each year the outcomes build upon each other. Even with this in mind, many teachers want to do the best they can for their students, and those niggling thoughts of not feeling like you are covering enough as well as you would like can lead to sleepless nights.
To help with those heart palpitations or early morning insomnia we have put together 7 strategies to help fit in all the teaching.
Remember, not all students are going to walk away from a lesson mastering that skill. That is OKAY! If you keep that in mind and have a large portion of your class making connections, then you know you’re on the right track with your teaching. If a lesson bombs, reflect, make adjustments, and tackle it again. There is a reason why students are exposed to the same skills year after year.
Be open to making adjustments to any systems you have put in place or timetable allocations. If you are trying to cram too much into a literacy block, consider pulling back and focussing on explicitly teaching phonics and reading well, rather than reading, spelling, phonics, and grammar.
Utilise small group activities
There is so much learning that can be taught and consolidated during small group work. The groups may rotate in a single or double lesson; alternatively, groups rotate each day. This is the perfect opportunity for students to practice a variety of learning skills across the curriculum as well as getting some one-on-one teacher time.
Identify events in the term
Look at your school calendar and take note of events that will impact teaching and students' learning. If you have a special celebration coming up, take the time in your planning to enjoy the day and bring real-life experiences and learning opportunities to the classroom. When swimming lessons roll around, rather than panic with teacher guilt because you can’t do all the teaching, focus on quality explicit teaching and bitesize activities that students can do to apply their learning.
Think of your program as a wishlist
A program is a working document that you will modify from term to term and year to year. Ideally, you should be reflecting and making adjustments to your program. It will depend on the students in your class and what action you need to take specifically regarding differentiation. If you don’t get all the teaching done as anticipated, don’t beat yourself up, but instead, look at the positives. ‘We covered 70% of the unit’, ‘The first two weeks of next term’s program is sorted’.
Combine the curriculum
If possible, incorporate different subjects into a project. These are usually projects which capture your class’s interest and provide rich, engaging learning experiences. For example, if you are teaching forces in Science, this leads into a project creating catapults, which aligns nicely with a measurement outcome in Maths, the Materials outcome in Design and Technology, and before you know it students are writing up a scientific report. Integration is also great to help kids make connections.
Less is more
When those overwhelming and worrying thoughts kick in about not being able to fit in all the teaching, it is usually a sign to pull back and focus on quality teaching. Tapping into quality teaching where you know you have taught a concept, skill or strategy well is going to be more beneficial to students than a lot of teaching skimming over concepts. Think quality over quantity.
Finally, consider if all the marking you are setting for yourself is impacting on that feeling of ‘How am I supposed to do all this teaching and marking on top of everything else?’. If that is resonating with you then read our blog post on How to be a Pro at Marking Student Work.
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