For example, I am nearing the end of my first year as a full time teacher. So since I have been in a listing mood recently it seems appropriate to list some of the things I have learnt this year.
1. Be bossier!
Let's face it: being bossy is basically part of my job. Diffidence might be charming but it doesn't help kids learn. And frankly, some times its more important to be confident than right. At least forging confidently ahead despite uncertainty demonstrates where the potholes are (though sacrificing a party member or two is not ideal; not even in the interests of making an accurate map of the terrain).
Some of the arenas in which I need to be bossier are discipline, record keeping, note taking and time keeping. I particularly sometimes need to be bossier with my colleagues. When I know what I'm talking about (which I do, occasionally), then I need to insist.
2. Plan more.
A planned week is 100% better than an unplanned week. Don't get the wrong impression - I don't actually FOLLOW my plan. But having lessons ready and resources printed and schedules created and all that jazz still makes a huge difference.
The difficulty is that planning is never as urgent as a thousand other bits and pieces. It tends to feel like procrastination.
At the moment I'm sacrificing loads of other more urgent work (like admin, marking etc.) in order to plan for next year. And I'm sure that this is the right decision. Not only does planning help me to teach better, it also helps me to teach with a higher level of confidence and fluency. It helps to decrease stress levels and exhaustion levels. It is also easier to be creative in advance. So if you plan, you're more likely to be creative. See points 1, 4 and 5 if you're still not sure why planning more is a good idea!
3. Live closer to work.
This just isn't worth it:
The stress, the time, the petrol money, the stress, the time, the petrol money, the stress, the time, the petrol money, the stress, the time the petrol money, the stress, the time, the petrol money....
You get the picture. Why choose inefficiency when you could have... THIS:
Hmm, yes, being a glorious 50s housewife has always been a dream of mine...
But seriously, moving to live within ten minutes walking distance from work has probably been the single most life-enhancing decision of the year.
We have so much more time to enjoy life. It's the ultimate way of slowing everything down a notch or two.
Our kitties also love our new place (though that's probably more to do with the garden than its proximity to work).
And yes, it has made more time for creativity in the kitchen...
4. Stress less.
I am a champion stresser. I could probably win a medal if they had medals for stressing. NEWS FLASH: stressing doesn't help. The work will get done faster and better if you don't stress about it. Stress is supremely inefficient.
Of course, not stressing is easier said than done (duh). In fact, I have been known to be stressed about stressing. And I have yet to actually succeed in not stressing. But I'm studying to improve. Points 2, 3, and 5 in this list have helped me to stress less.
But these are some of my anti-stress mantras:
- It doesn't matter that much anyway.
- In two weeks time I won't even remember this.
- Who gives a %#@*!$#? [no matter what they say, profanity always helps in times of trouble]
- It'll get done eventually.
- I shall run away and join the circus.
Saying these repeatedly in any order you choose and with increasing levels of hysteria has been know to not help at all... But they're good to remember anyway.
5. Be more creative.
Being more creative is difficult. It requires proficiency in time management and planning OR a general ability to tell the world to go hang while you get on with your creative project.
BUT it builds your soul. It relaxes you. It gives your "serious" work fresh flair and imagination.
Now the ideal application of creativity is to your work. Because then you can hit time-management/planning/creativity/work buttons all at once and STILL reap the rewards of creativity.
Make new, nice resources and share them (this also garners praise which is always nice). Write reflective marathon blog entries (who cares if no one reads them). Dream up new ways of organising the universe. Rearrange your admin under colour coded headings. Invent a new curriculum. Play (*educational*) games in class.
After all, why not?