5 Great Reads for Teachers Setting Goals

There’s lots of information for student goal setting out there, but what if you want to set some goals as a teacher? Whether you’re beginning a new school year or just looking to turn over a new leaf and try something new in your classroom, here’s 5 great reads to help you set thoughtful, effective and productive teacher goals.

 
5 Great Reads for Teachers Setting Goals. A great collection of links for teachers beginning a new school year or a new term. Make effective goals to help your teacher growth. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Goal-Setting for Teachers - 8 Paths to Self Improvement

This comprehensive post from The Cult of Pedagogy is a great place to start if you want to set teacher goals, but you’re not quite sure what goal you want to set. Covering 8 different pathways teachers can explore, this post expands on these ideas and offers thoughtful goals - and a whole heap of resources - which you might like to explore. This would be the perfect place to start to set goals!

Setting Goals for a New Term

This is another great place to start if you’re not set on a particular teacher goal yet. This post explores some more traditional pathways in goal setting for teachers - from being more organised to improving student learning, with links for further reading.

 
5 Great Reads for Teachers Setting Goals. A great collection of links for teachers beginning a new school year or a new term. Make effective goals to help your teacher growth. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Setting Goals for Going Back to School

This post takes you through the WHOLE process of setting teacher goals - from visioning what you want to happen to creating a plan to achieve the goal. It’s a really comprehensive post, filled with really detailed and usable information. Sit down with some paper and pens to go through this one in-depth!

Back to School: Back to Learning

This article takes a set of steps for guiding student learning and explores how teachers can use these steps to guide their own learning and goal setting. I really like the way these steps make a circle, reminding us that setting goals is a part of life-long learning, something which we can follow through again and again.

School Leaders: Setting Realistic Goals with Your Teachers

This article is aimed at school leaders, but I think it’s a worthwhile read for all educators. I particularly like the idea of asking the right questions - to make sure we’re making goals which are truly effective. There’s a lot of other good information about intention and mindfulness when we’re goal setting, as well as looking beyond SMART goals. I’d recommend reading through this one a few times - then forwarding it to your own school leaders!

How do you set goals as a teacher? Leave a comment below!

 
 

Writing Skills and Expectations Before Goal Setting

Making writing goals is a common activity at the beginning of the school year. But it is essential that students understand the range of skills they could be working on if they are going to make skills which are both effective and achievable.

Before students can make thoughtful and useful writing goals, they need to know what is expected of them, what good writing looks like, and what skills they need to master to create their own good writing.

 
Writing skills and expectations before goal setting. Don't jump straight into making writing goals with your students. Take a moment to make sure they understand what is expected of them and how they can achieve that. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

When we ask students to make goals at the beginning of the year, we often ask them to be clear in what they would like to achieve. But are we making sure they have a clear understanding of what they should be aiming for?

When adults make goals, we usually have an idea of what we are specifically aiming for. If we want to become a better runner, we may do some research on what a good (and achievable) time looks like for different distances. If we’re striving to have a cleaner house, we may read articles on what household jobs need to be done or watch documentaries on decluttering our houses.

Having an understanding of what a successful outcome looks like, helps us make more informed goals - goals we’re more likely to meet. The same goes for our students - when they know what they should be aiming for, they’re more likely to create goals which are effective and achievable.

In the classroom, students have writing outcomes which come from the curriculum. But curriculums tend to be written for teachers - education professionals who understand specific terms. They are often hard to read without background knowledge so we rarely put them in front of our students.

One way we can overcome this is by pulling out the most important elements to present to our students or by rewriting them for our students to understand them. Students can explore these easier-to-read versions of the outcomes before they start making writing goals - they can make them a subject of discussion; look at how they might work to achieve these outcomes, what skills are involved to achieve them or how they can become specific achievable goals.

 
 

Before we ask students to set writing goals, they should first reflect on where they’re working from. But it is also essential for students to have an idea of what they’re aiming for in their writing - both generally and broken down into specific skills to master.

By exploring the writing of others, students can identify what writing skills they want to work on during the school year to make their own writing better.

1. Explore published writing

You can share a range of good writing - from picture books to articles to poetry - from the first day of school. This can be done by reading aloud, but you should also make a wide range of good writing accessible for students to read on their own every day.

Before writing goals are set, you can share pieces of writing which support different outcomes. As you read these with the students, you can identify the skills the writers have used to create effective writing, creating a list of skills which students may wish to work on during the year.

2. Model writing yourself

Writing in front of your students can be daunting, but it can also be incredibly valuable for you and them. Students can see how more experienced writers work to think about their writing, how they work to improve their writing while they write and how they apply skills they have been working on.

Demonstrating writing in the first weeks of school, before setting writing goals, allows you to highlight certain skills which you might like students to master. Students are able to watch how you work on those skills and what working on those skills actually looks like and can add those to a list of things they may wish to focus on.

3. Assess writing together

Use a piece of your own writing or a professional piece of writing to examine in-depth. You may wish to use your list of skills which you’ve put together from the outcomes or from other pieces of writing and assess whether the author has shown these skills well - and how they have done that.

Students can then use this assessment to determine how they might work on improving those skills.

For example, students may be focusing on how to use sentences of different lengths to create effective narratives. By examining the sentences in Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing, students can see how the author puts together sentences to draw the attention of the reader. Students can then make a goal to vary their sentences when they are writing and to revisit those sentences when they are editing to see if they make the writing more effective.

By taking a closer look at what good writing can look like, what skills they need to master and what outcomes they are trying to achieve, students can be better informed when they make their writing goals - ensuring that the goals are more thoughtful, more achievable and more relevant to them as writers.

 
 

More Back to School Blog Posts to Enjoy

The beginning of the school year is creeping closer, new school shoes are being purchased and people are looking for the best school snacks!

As a teacher, you’re getting yourself ready for school and that includes looking for some great posts and back to school inspiration. If you were looking for more links after finishing these fabulous posts, then check out the following!

 
More Back to School Blog Posts to Enjoy - a collection of links to excellent back to school blog posts filled with teacher tips, teacher strategies and teacher advice. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Getting Your Classroom Set Up

One year, early in my teaching career, I walked into my new classroom only to be confronted by three very large bulletin boards. I had no idea what to do with them!

Wow Factor Back to School Bulletin Board Ideas for Teachers from A+ Teaching Resources is a great blog post looking at thoughtful ideas for bulletin boards in the classroom. I love the reminders about learning strategies and how they can be displayed for constant reinforcement.

Foundation Into First discusses another problem teachers might face when they set up for school in What’s the Best Seating Arrangement for Your Class?

“You get your new classroom key. You walk excitedly to your new room and unlock the door. Inside you see a stack of chairs and tables in the corner. So where to begin?”

This extensive and thoughtful blog post walks the reader through a range of different seating options, looking at the positives and negatives of each.

Getting to Know You

Do you start off the school year with getting to know you activities? Are you looking for some new activities to revitalise the beginning of the school year?

Top Teaching Tasks offers a range of activities in Using Getting to Know You Activities. As well as introducing these activities, the post looks at how they can be used to build classroom expectations and to allow time for individual meetings (or testing!) early in the school year.

“I didn’t know these students, and they didn’t know me, but I knew then that I needed to build a positive community – a sense of team – with these children, and quickly!”

TeachEzy also offers a range of getting to know you activities with 6 Classroom Icebreakers to Start the Year. These ice breakers are immediately usable, but I particularly like the one which stresses all the positive things which will happen throughout the school year.

Building a Classroom Community

Think Grow Giggle encourages the building of a strong classroom atmosphere in 8 Strategies to Build a Strong Classroom Community. This post explores the long term strategy of building a classroom community, filled with ideas from encouraging active listening to engaging in monthly activities.

Do you use getting to know you activities on the first day of school? What tips and advice do you have for teachers heading back to school? What is your favourite part of back to school? Don’t forget to leave a comment!

 
 

Back to School Blog Posts to Enjoy

The anticipation is rising, back to school sales are in all the stores - it’s definitely time to get ready to head back to the classroom.

But between laminating and planning, don’t forget to catch up with some reading! The following blog posts are filled with great back to school tips and ideas for teachers - well worth the reading time!

 
Back to School Blog Posts to Enjoy - a collection of links to excellent back to school blog posts filled with teacher tips, teacher strategies and teacher advice. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Before School Starts

Poet Prints Teaching writes about preparing for back to school in 5 Things to Do Before School Starts, covering everything from school supplies to the first day. I think the really important tip here is deciding what to do with student work - getting that under control from the beginning can make a huge difference in your organisation throughout the year!

Rainbow Sky Creations also has a list of things: 8 Things I Do to Get Ready for Back to School. There’s so many great tips to follow here, but I particularly like the advice about organising class lists, setting personal goals (so important!) and timetabling in self care.

Getting Organised

Tech Teacher P-3 tackles getting organised in the post How Organising Your Teacher Desk Can Increase Your Productivity. This is definitely the post I needed back when I started teaching - the mess on my desk was legendary!

I really love the idea for storing small bits - it’s always those small things we need the most and find the hardest to find!

Building a Classroom Library

We all know that reading is important and that having books available for reading helps to promote a reading classroom, but stocking a classroom library can seem absolutely daunting. How to Build Up Your Classroom Library in No Time from Always a Lesson is a fabulous overview at some of the different ways you can find affordable books.

Expectations and Rules

There’s a lot of really good ideas to consider when you read Teaching Expectations Vs Rules from Mrs Richardson’s Class. This is a really positive look at developing a strong classroom culture and behaviour management in the beginning of the school year.

I really like how this post points out some things to reflect on before school starts as well as the focus on building positive behaviour together.

STEM Activities

Looking for some great back to school activities for your students to engage with? You can’t go past 7 Brilliant Back to School Stem Activities for Kids from Jewel’s School Gems. These activities integrate goal setting, team building and all about me activities, making them perfect for the start of the school year.

What activities do you explore during the first week of school? What tips and advice do you have for teachers heading back to school? What is your favourite part of back to school? Don’t forget to leave a comment!

 
 

5 First Day of School Blog Posts to Inspire You

First day of school. That fabulous rush of parents, books, reminders from the office . . . and of course students. Trying to remember names. Organising seating. Going through expectations. Organising piles and piles of notebooks!

As you get ready for that first day, here’s five great blog posts from a range of teachers to inspire you to start off the year on the very best foot.

 
5 First Day of School Blog Posts to Inspire You - a collection of blog posts to start you off on the right foot from the first day of school. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

1. 5 Things to Remember

Overwhelmed by the thought of that first day? Five Things to Keep in Mind on the First Day of School from What I Have Learned is a great reminder of what is most important. There’s some great ideas here for learning and consolidating the names of you students and for team building as you create a positive classroom environment.

I really love the importance on learning names - and this reasoning behind it:

“As I mentioned earlier, every opportunity you have to say and interact with students names will help you learn them that much better. Once you learn their names, your brain can move onto other things, like figuring out their learning styles and personalities.”

2. Some More Ideas

Looking for some more first day of school ideas? Mrs Beattie’s Classroom offers What to Do on the First Day of School - filled with thoughtful ideas you can use from the moment students walk in the door.

I love the range of activities which are included here - but I especially love the early focus on entry routines. This is something which can get missed on that first day when everything is a little bit different, but getting it right early can set the tone for a great school year.

3. First Day of School in Other Countries

This one is a little bit different, but a great read - and great information to share with your students on the first day of school. Kid World Citizen has a great post What Does the First Day of School Look Like Around the World. I really, really enjoyed reading about the traditions of other countries and it made me reflect a little on first day traditions here in Australia.

I particularly enjoyed reading about the different celebrations of education around the world. The idea of celebrating learning from the first day of school is a great idea - and it’s a concept we could probably build effectively in our own schools and classrooms.


4. Content and Procedures

I loved You CAN Teach Content and Procedure from Day One! From Growing Grade by Grade. This blog post explores different ways to combine content and procedure so students are learning how to do things while they’re doing it.

There’s two things I particularly enjoyed about this post. The first was the tip about planning the procedures which were being taught with the content which was being taught. The second thing I enjoyed was the recommendation to role play procedures - such an easy idea, but such a valuable one!


5. One Thing for the First Day

What is one MUST DO for the first day of school? The Sassy Apple has shared one at The One Activity I Am Adding to My First Day Plans this Year.

This blog post explores the idea of bringing independent reading to students from the first day, not waiting to get them settled into routines and procedures, but showing students that reading is important and valued from the very first day. I can’t think of a better way to create a reading environment in the classroom.

What do you include on your first day of school? Have you got any ideas to add to these? Don’t forget to comment to share yours.

 
 

6 Fabulous Blog Posts for New Teachers

Being a new teacher is daunting, terrifying, overwhelming - or for some calm souls, just another step into a career they’ve been preparing for.

Whether you’re a little anxious about what is about to come or very confident about the adventure ahead of you, the following blog post are filled with all the tips, advice and strategies you could possibly need.

 
6 Fabulous Blog Posts for New Teachers - a blog post filled with links to thoughtful and useful posts for new teachers from experienced teachers. A blog post from Galarious Goods
 

1. Get prepared mentally

Before you start planning for your fabulous first year, you must read How to Mentally Prepare for your First Year Teaching from Adventures of a Schoolmarm. This lengthy and thoughtful post look like it only has a few tips for new teachers, but as you read it you realise that it’s absolutely packed full of wonderful advice.

Two things really stood out for me from this post. I love the idea of defining your vision before you start teaching, especially making a vision board which you can return to during the year. I also found myself nodding along with this advice about reading standards:

“Look for how the standards below and above your grade level connect back to what you are teaching. This will make lesson planning so much easier once the school year begins!”

(Honestly, read this post even if you aren’t a new teacher. There’s a lot of lovely refreshing advice that more experienced teachers could also learn from.)

2. Take in the practical advice

A Letter to a New Grad Teacher from Rainbow Sky Creations is a wonderfully sweet piece of practical advice and reassurance. With ten tips to read through, you’re sure to find something you didn’t know (or something which you’ve already been told, but you’ve totally forgotten).

While the laminating, dealing with parents and office ladies advice are all spot on, I really loved the reminder to take time for yourself as a new teacher. Self care is so important for teachers and getting into a good routine with it will definitely help you in the long run.

3. What personal items will you need?

What Teachers Need in their Desks from Language Arts Classroom is such a thoughtful practical post. It looks at some of the items which make teaching a little easier, from food to personal items. I also really like the way that the post considers students and their needs.


4. What do I do on the first day?

Sarah from More Than a Worksheet has put together a BRILLIANT post - 14 First Day of School Tips for New Teachers. This is a MUST READ for new teachers who want to be fully prepared for what they’re going to do on that first day when students walk in the door.

While this is a post for new teachers, again I think more experienced teachers can get a lot out of it, with lots of ideas on dealing with the chaos of the first day. My favourite tips are the reading aloud and the collecting supplies tips (oh, so many piles of notebooks to sort through!) but there’s definitely much more than that to absorb!


5. Tips from other teachers

Want a bunch of new teacher tips which you can come back to over and over? You can’t miss First Year Teacher Tips from Primary Flourish. The star here is a lovely image filled with tips from a wide range of teachers. Stand out tips for me? Using a song to get the attention of the students and not rushing in the first 6 to 8 weeks.

6. Learning from the experience

It’s always great to read personal reflections from teachers. 5 Lessons Learned: My First Year of Teaching from Upper Elementary Snapshots is a wonderful reflection on the lessons learned during the first year of teaching.

My favourite lesson was the ‘just say no!’ lesson! I wish I’d had someone to say that to me when I started teaching and found myself involved in more than I had time or energy for.

These six blog posts are a wonderful place to start for new teachers. Whether you’re confident or nervous, may your first year as a teacher be filled with learning, laughter and growth.

 
 

Allowing Students to Fail in the Classroom

How can we create classrooms which support risk taking? How can we allow our students to fail? How can we lift them up so we can try again?

 
Allowing Students to Fail - How we can encourage students to take risks in the classroom and create an environment where failure is met with growth. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

We’re sitting on the beach watching our six year old trying to make sandcastles. His first attempts are utter failures - they’re half formed, crumbling at the edges.

But he’s comfortable with sand these days. He knows that he can flatten the failed sandcastles out and try again. He knows that a different method might work better and that he can always add on to his attempts. He know that sand is a good medium to explore in.

Have a look around your classroom. What mediums have you provided which allow for students to fail and try again? Do you have concrete materials which can be manipulated again and again until students achieve? Do you have whiteboards or chalk boards which allow students to wipe away their work and try again? Do your students know that they can cross their work out and try again, that they can add in new words, experiment with different spellings.

Creating a classroom of joyful experimentation allows students to know they can fail and fail and still try again. It allows them to reach higher heights, to strive for their best work rather than the work which just meets the requirements. By placing materials which allow for trying again in our classrooms, we facilitate this experimentation.

 
Is your classroom mistake friendly? What can you do to help students know that they are in a place where it is safe to make mistakes? A Galarious Goods blog post
 

At the local play centre three 2 year olds take on the massive inflatable slide. It’s way too tall for them, way above their skill level, sure to scare them before they get to the top. But each of the tiny children make it to the top, each joyfully launching themselves down the steep slide. They know even if they fall, the inflatable puffiness of the slide will catch them.

What are the consequences of failing in your classroom? As a child, I remember a sense of deep shame associated with missing a word in a spelling test. I remember teachers who were quick to tell me where I was wrong, but not how I could use that to improve.

And I remember my Year 12 English teacher who absolutely covered a writing draft in red pen . . . filled with corrections, but also suggestions - suggestions which made my writing so much better, which nudged me towards growth in my writing. She helped me to develop the tools I needed to become a better writer.

As teachers, we can control many of the consequences inside our classroom - including the consequences for failing. Through promoting a growth mindset, we can encourage our students to look at failures as opportunities for growth, help them to see how they are building new knowledge and creating new understanding. We can acknowledge their failure quietly and help them see that they are building towards eventual success.

Ignoring failure - or work which needs improving - in our classroom isn’t the best path for our students. It’s how I made it through 12 years of schooling before someone really helped me fix my writing. But cultivating an atmosphere where failure is greeted with shame isn’t helpful either - it makes our students fearful of trying.

Instead we need to find a sense of ‘puffiness’ like the inflatable slide. The ‘puffiness’ is giving our students the confidence to try new or difficult things, knowing that if they fall short, we’ll help them to find what they need to succeed in the future. Knowing that failing is a learning experience, not an end point.

How do we let our students know that the ‘puffiness’ is there? Like 2 year old bounce and fall on the inflatable surface before they climb, we can give them opportunities for experimenting with it from the first day of school. We can use an art activity or a STEM activity to show them that trying and falling short is no big deal - especially when we emphasise the ‘what have we learned from this’ and ‘what can we change next time’ parts of the lesson. We can use books which show failure and growth to show students that this is what we believe. We can model writing and correcting ourselves or we can act out situations where we fail and grow.

It was her first day on the balance bike. She insisted that we stand either side of her, back ups in case she falls. As she got more confident, she allows us to move further away, but when she does fall, she knows that we are there to help her get back up again.

We can create classrooms of support, where everyone knows that mistakes and growth are valued from the moment they walk through the door. We can use our decor, our routines, the way we teach behaviour and expectations to let our students (and other people who step inside) know that we value learning and growth over perfection - the we know that learning from our mistakes helps us to create better thing.

Early on we may need to be more present supports for some students. We may need to ensure that we check in with them daily, that we let them know that we are there. We may need to reassure them that trying and getting it wrong is ok. We may need to model supportive language - and how to be a supportive peer - over and over again.

But as the school year progresses, we’ll be able to move further away. Our students will know that we’re there to offer that support if they need it, but they will also be able to spot their own growth, will be able to offer themselves (and others) the words needed to try and fail and try again. We’ll have created classrooms which allow students to fail and we’ll let them know that they have the tools to try again.

 
 
 
 

Don't Make Writing Goals with Blank Pages - Creating Writing to Make Writing Goals

It was hot and stuffy in the classroom, the anticipation of the new school year still hanging thick in the air. Miss West had places a worksheet on everyone’s desk and had returned to the front of the room.

“Today we’ll make our writing goals for the year,” she said, holding up a space sheet. “I need you to think about how you’d like to improve your writing this year.”

Bayley wrinkled his nose. He tried to remember some of the writing he’d done last year. He remembered that some of it was really good, but he couldn’t remember what he was really good at. And what did he need to improve?

 
Don’t Make Writing Goals with Blank Pages - Creating Writing to Make Writing Goals. A blog post looking at what students need when they are setting goals at the beginning of the school year. Perfect for back to school.
 

When we ask our students to make writing goals at the beginning of the school year, it can be tempting to jump straight into the goal making process. But many of our students are stepping back into their ‘writing shoes’ for the first time after weeks or months since they last engaged in the writing process.

When the first thing these students are asked to do is ‘make writing goals’, students are working from a blank page. They may end up making writing goals, but it’s highly likely that these goals will just be surface goals which don’t really identify where students can effectively grow and achieve in the year to come.

scribbling-152216_1280.png

As the students tumbled into the room on the first day of school Mr Evans asked them to put their piles of new books at the front of the room.

“Just grab a pen and a regular notebook,” he called out, “and find somewhere comfortable to sit.”

As the students settled around the room, Mr Evans found a piece of music. “I want you to listen to this,” he said, “and write me something. It might be about how the music makes you feel. It might be about your holiday. Or you might write me a brand new story. Just blow the cobwebs away and write.”

He gave the students fifteen minutes of writing time, before asking them to stop their work. “I guess we’d better do the organisational stuff then,” he joked.

What would happen if our students started writing from the very beginning of the first day of school? What message would this send to our students? And how can we use that writing.

By using prompts - questions, quotes, pictures or music - we can give our students something to write about in those early days of school. By repeating this daily over the first week or two, we’re showing them that writing is valued in our classrooms, that it’s something we just do.

We’re also able to use the writing they produce. It can be used as formative assessment in writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation. By writing daily, we get to see how students change and improve, how they approach different prompts or styles of writing, and students get a portfolio of writing to use as they set their writing goals.

Are your students looking through their writing? Grab this free reflection resource 

 
 

Joey put the three pieces of writing down in front of her and smiled at Ruby. “I’ve read through these now, and I think they’re really funny. I’m using the same words a lot, though.”

“Maybe you can put that on your list,” Ruby suggested, “You could try to use a better range of words?”

“I like that,” Joey wrote it down. “I think I’ll do that and work on stronger sentences. Let’s look at your writing now.”

Once students have three or four pieces of writing, even short pieces of writing, they’ll have a starting place for goal setting. Students can sit down and read through their work - whether it’s on their own, with a partner or with the teacher - to determine what they’re doing well and where they’d like to improve. Having the writing there in front of them gives them a solid starting place - a concrete example of what kind of writers they are so they can create goals to become the writers they want to be.

Get Back to School and Writing resources here

 
 

5 Ways to Find Joy in Your Classroom and Teaching

 Teaching can be really hard. So much is expected of teachers in so little time and with so few resources. Sometimes we find ourselves facing problems which we just can’t unravel, no matter how hard we try. And there are days when we ask ourselves why we persist.

Each year I choose a word to aim to - I think about what the word means and how I can bring more of those concepts into my life. In 2018, that word is JOY. I realised that joy is one of those things which can make the classroom an easier place to be, something which can bring light, even on the dim, dark days. But how can we find joy in the classroom and in our teaching?

 
5 Ways to Find Joy in Your Classroom and Teaching from Galarious Goods
 

1. Bring things of beauty and joy with you

There are some objects which just bring a sense of joy with them. It might be their colour or their shape or the reminder of a happy moment. We can bring these things - or things inspired by them -  into the classroom with us.I have a collection of bells which bring me happiness - one was bought on a holiday with friends, another has a unique sound, the third was given to me by a student. They were perfect for my desk in the classroom and brought joy whenever I saw them or rang them. You might have a framed photo of family or friends, an image of an amazing place you’ve been or would like to go or special pens, pencils or highlighters which make you happy.

You might take it further and decorate your whole classroom to make it a happy place. You might fill it with rainbows or images of plants, you might include happy quotes or use your favourite colour  as a background on a notice board.

What if you don’t have a dedicated classroom space? Bring some joy with you! It might be a beautiful lanyard or a lovely pencil case. You might like to buy a special planner (like this one from Mrs Strawberry, these planning sheets from Green Grubs, this library planner from Little Library Learners, or this planner from Oceanview Resources); a planner cover or decor like these beautiful options for New Zealand teachers from Green Grubs or binder covers like these from Jewel's School Gems. Use beautiful pictures as your computer background or screen saver. Buy some nice folders to hold your items or add lovely labels to your cart.

2. Reframe the mundane

A lot of teaching is repetitive . . . and a little bit boring. And while we can make some of it fun, some of it has to just be what it is.

But we can make it a little more joyful by reframing what’s happening in our heads. We can look for the little pieces of joy and remind ourselves that they’re there.

Staff meetings are a perfect example of this. The workplace health and safety officer might be going through the fire drill process for the 10th time in the year - but that means all teachers will be better prepared if there is a fire. And isn’t it great that they take their job seriously - it might really save a life or prevent and injury one day.

Marking can also seem endless, but look for those moments where students have shown improvement or really taken on something you’ve taught in class. Find those little pieces of joy in their work and celebrate them.

3. Work in the Affirmative

I love using affirmations - they’ve been part of my life since I was young and my mother used them with us. I use them quite a lot, these days - as motivation, for calming, for reflecting on what I’m doing and what I’d like to be doing.

Affirmations can definitely be used to bring joy into the classroom. It might be in the form of a lovely quote or poster which you hang in your classroom, or you might like to take a few moments to write your own at the beginning of the day or week. You can keep them in your teacher diary or on your desk or use them as part of a display at home or school. 

Looking for some teaching affirmations? Download my free set of teacher affirmations here.

 
 

4. Get Dancing

Well, you don’t have to dance. You could sing. Or run. Or make yourself the nicest coffee . . . 

The idea is to treat yourself - find activities or rituals which make you really happy and make sure to build them into your weekly schedule. It might be something you can do at school - one year a group of teachers at my school organised an exercise boot camp on the school oval after school, or you could always begin your school day with a song which makes you happy. Or it might be something which you participate in outside of school - a few years ago, I participated in adult ballet classes on Wednesday nights. It made me happy and gave me exercise!

If you have something you do every day, think about how you can make it happier. Always start the day with a cup of tea? What about having a pretty tea cup or tea thermos to drink it from? Like to eat a nice salad for your lunch at school? Could you add a nice relish or dressing or some lovely herbs to make it happier? Buy a nice hat for playground duty, treat yourself to joyful sticky notes, theme your daily whiteboard reminders to your favourite children’s books - treat yourself in ways which bring joy!


5. Bring joy and passion to your subject matter

Do you enjoy what you teach? Really enjoy it?When you enjoy what you’re teaching, your students feel it. If you share that joy, the excitement level in the room often rises and you’ve got a greater chance of having one of ‘those’ lessons which you want to repeat over and over. 

But what if you’re not teaching something you love? Is it possible to get really excited about mixed fractions? (Well, I enjoy them, but I’m occasionally strange!).Can you connect them to something you enjoy? Maybe you can combine mixed fractions and a chemistry or baking exploration? Or use them in a graphing or mapping exercise? Or use them to talk about how many books your class has read?

Or, you could connect them to something your class really enjoys. Challenge them to connect mixed fractions to unboxing videos or superheroes or making slime. Feed off their excitement and see how far it will take you. 

Don’t forget to keep a record of those really great lessons. It might be a photo or a short description. You might collect some feedback from your students or make a video about it. Use photos and descriptions to make a special noticeboard of happy lessons you’ve had with your class. These records can be great for your teaching portfolio, but they can also serve as a reminder of all the happy teaching moments you’ve enjoyed.


How do you bring joy to your classroom? Let me know in the comments!

Related posts to read:

 
 

5 Great First Day of School Reads

Recently, I was fortunate to be part of the free Back to School eBook - an Australian and New Zealand Teacher Authors Collaboration. One of the things the participating teacher-authors included was a back to school tip. Mine, of course, was related to reading, so I couldn’t help but dig a little deeper and think about what books I’d love to read aloud on the first day of school. I’m thrilled to present this short list:

 
First Day of School Reads - a Back to School Blog Post from Galarious Goods
 

1. Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Theme I’d touch on: It’s ok to try new things out, but it’s also ok to just do you.

You could really read just about any Aaron Blabey book - they’re so funny and surprisingly detailed and really engaging. I love Thelma the Unicorn because she wants something, makes it happen (with glitter), experiences and enjoys it, then goes back to her old world. It also touches on bullying - particularly senseless bullying we often see, which allows for some good cyber safely messages.


2. The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland

Theme I’d touch on: We can help find solutions when we listen to the problem

There’s been a number of ‘bear’ books, but the original is still my favourite. Its rollicking, rhyming style is so easy to read and there’s several messages you can look at closer with your students. I love that Lion, Moose and Zebra think that being more like them is the solution, because they’re happy aren’t they? It takes sheep’s empathy to really hear Bear and realise that he’s severely sleep deprived! We can all be better listeners, and this is a message which can carry on from the beginning of the school year

 

 
5 Great Back to School Reads from Galarious Goods
 

3. Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Theme I’d touch on: It’s ok to be proud of school and it’s ok to work hard at school

This is a book I’d probably read in upper primary grades where we can look at the background around it. That can also be an age where it’s seen as ‘cool’ to disengage from school or school work, and those who are enthusiastic about their school lessons can be seen as ‘different’ or ‘geeky’. This book points out why education is important and how lucky many students are and opens the school year with permission to take education seriously.

4. The beginning of Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman

Theme I’d touch on: Children around the world are living lives both different and the same as us

I adore this book and I know it’s often taught in the upper years. Even if you’re not taking an in-depth look at it until later in the year, you can read a ‘teaser’ of the book and open up a discussion about the differences and similarities in the world. It can be a good challenge for students to consider the world beyond their own experiences and open the class up to a year of discovery and reflection.

 
Five Great Back to School Reads from Galarious Goods
 

 

5. The Tomorrow Book by Jackie French

Theme I’d touch on: Where are we going and how can we solve the obstacles in our way

If you’ve got a future or a STEM focus in your classroom, this gentle picture book can be a great first day of school opening. It invites questions, thoughts, brainstorms, new vocabulary and investigation - just what your need for an exciting, investigative year to come.

What books do you enjoy reading at the beginning of the school year? Which books have been most successful?