Decluttering pedagogy – what to stop doing in 2019

New Year’s resolutions. January 1 flips over and we spring into action trying to improve ourselves. Yet by February, those promises are long forgotten and we’re back to our old habits.

Thanks to Maire Kondo’s Netflix series, decluttering our homes of unneeded possessions has been added to the standard new year’s resolutions along with getting in shape and having a better diet.

The new year is also a time in schools where teachers find ourselves faced with implementing new ideas and initiatives.

If cluttered environments create stress and unhappiness, what about cluttered pedagogy?

What teacher actions and beliefs do I need to throw away?

Whole class ‘talks’ about behaviour

It’s getting towards the end of term and the incidents are piling up. The whole class (or even worse year group) are assembled by the adults so that they can talk sternly to the children about their collective behaviour.

Job done.

Except the kids who do the right thing leave feeling like they are ‘in trouble’ for something they haven’t done and the kids who need the conversation use the security of a group to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Do instead: make time to reflect and celebrate good decisions and save tough conversations for a less public forum. By taking the time to identify who needs the conversation, that ‘whole class’ maybe just three or four children.

Routines that waste students’ time

For all the talk about how time-poor we are in schools, are we really that mindful of children’s time? How much time in schools do kids spend lining up, waiting to be able to enter classrooms, listening to long-winded instructions when they already understand the task, sitting through attendance, asking permission to go to the bathroom, waiting to be put into groups, locating digital resources that require multiple logins and clicks to access.

Do instead: a photoboard for ‘who is where’, instructions written up beforehand, exit points for modelling, an app to sort children into groups (or better yet let them pick), QR codes to curated resources, improving procedures, soft starts that acknowledge that children aren’t always going to show up at the same second from transitions.

Mental Countdowns

“Not long until the weekend.”

“3 weeks until the end of the term.”

If there’s one negative habit that I need to kick this year it’s the countdown goes in my head when I find myself tired. Yet that mental countdown is also what pushes this rush through days in order to ‘get through’ a unit before the next one starts so we can finish all our units before the end of the year.

Do instead: remind myself that a bad day in education is worth 1,000 good ones in a dreary office job.

Wearing busy like a badge of honour

Have you ever noticed how relaxed those last few days of school are just before the holidays? That pressure to finish *this* task so that we can get on to the next unit subsides. The end of the term is one of the few times that you really get that the freedom to be in the moment with your students.

Do instead: remind myself of @ewanmcintosh post that unit plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

So yes, these goals are a work in progress.

In saying no to old habits, there is space created to grow and change.

What is it you will stop doing in 2019?

How could you de-clutter your pedagogy?


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