I’ve been using the KISS method in my weekly reflections for a while now, both professionally and personally, sounds exciting doesn’t it?!
Actually it stand for Keep, Improve, Start, and Stop.
Our school term has finished, and although I’m teaching summer camp (another rash, mad but brilliant decision that will merit it’s own rambling post soon enough I should imagine!) it’s time for a little reflection.
Personal Wellbeing: Not everything about confinement was awful, in fact on a personal level I really appreciated the extra time I got in the mornings, our school started at 9am, rather than 8:15, and then on top of that of course was the non- 45 minute commute. This meant I had time to run before work, and do yoga afterwards. I’d love to find a way to keep doing more of these activities, which kept me fit, calm, sane, and helped me sleep well.
Tailor-made lessons: It soon became clear that what had become my “default-when-overworked” way of following the textbook and adding a few well-tested activities, was not going to work on zoom or in the aftermath (see here). This was actually a brilliant opportunity in disguise to get back to one of my favourite things about teaching, thinking about the various students in my classes and producing material specifically for them. It was motivating, gave me a buzz, moreover the students loved it and produced some truly magnificent work, for example a group of 11 year olds I’ve been teaching since December did some amazing space projects.
Films & Plays: for myself but also my students, I’ve been enjoying the chance to watch Shakespeare plays from the Globe theatre, and a variety, including a brilliant “Streetcar named Desire” from the National theatre. Although the free streaming may not continue in is certainly an investment to consider, especially if you teach literature.
Short films: such as this one are a brilliant way of presenting both language and grammar, in this case comparisons. They really get the students’ attention and work well both on zoom, and in socially-distanced classrooms too.
Organisation: I’ve never exactly been known for my organisational skills and confinement teaching pushed that to the limit, on our first day of online teaching I received 150 messages, and that was before lunch – from both parents and students. I regularly received around a hundred mails all containing myhomework.doc and quickly realised I needed to set up some system(s). Once I sorted out my folders on my pc I realised if I wanted to keep enough space to download a film or two ( see KEEP!) I needed to upload stuff into the cloud, enter Evernote .
Before I could never remember where I’d stored certain activities, you know, the ones that don’t particularly fit just one class, one grammar point, etc. Now I just upload everything, including photos, weblinks, anything. What I particularly appreciate is the #hashtags, my problem before was not remembering the title I gave any particular doc and therefore spending hours searching my files, now I just bung a couple of hashtag searches into evernote, #teens #fun #video #presentperfect, etc. and up comes my painstakingly prepared activity of a couple of years ago.
Talking of which, while clearing out my cellar during my holidays I found a ton of stuff, including flash cards I made just after my CTEFLA in 1993!! And yes, I’m using them in summer camp with primary students!
Relationships with students: Online teaching made it really obvious who wanted someone to reach out to and talk to, I even had students turn up to a voluntary “teatime chat” zoom after school. We all got to know each other better and I’d like to keep this up.
Checking my bags before I leave in the morning! Yes, organisation again, but honestly, the amount of times I’ve spent the weekend preparing a ton of wonderful stuff the dashed out of the house on Monday morning, leaving it all on my study desk!
Listening to, using and sharing podcasts: During my extended lunch hour and morning runs I started listening to a ton of new podcasts, Something rhymes with purple is a brilliant podcast about the meaning and origin of words – probably more interesting for teachers or very high level students. The Compass is a great podcast by the BBC on a load of interesting topics and the presenter speaks slowly and clearly enough to use in class.
Blogging regularly again: Although I don’t always have the time I really enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas, for a while I was worried that either no-one cared, or worse, that they realised I was talking a load of old tosh! But now I’ve decided I don’t care, I’ve been reading back on my reflective posts which started when I did my Master’s TESOL and I find them useful and interesting to look back on, so that’s at least one of us!
Saying yes to everything: Lockdown was the prefect opportunity to slow down, in nearly all aspects of my life (except teaching perhaps!). I’d like to take that with me.
FOMO: I was perfectly content to sit in my garden reading, or run with the dogs in the woods, again I see no reason to dash back to a rush of activities!
What about you, I’d love to hear your “kiss”!