A wise colleague referred to something this week that resonated with me, it was regarding the idea of a sort of teaching ‘bucket list’. We’ve all got ideas we’d like to try in teaching but either never get around to it or talk ourselves out of it. This blog was something I’d been wanting to do for instance, and as my partner was out of town the free time allowed me to go for it.
How can a teaching bucket-list make us better teachers though? Well, I still recall my interview for a place on my PGCE course at Bath Spa university, in which I said, “I like the idea of teaching, as it seems to me you’d have to be constantly learning, that really appeals to me!” Like all teachers though, at times I have run the risk of losing this passion.
I consider myself an innovative and proactive teacher, but often when the pressure of results, appraisal and planning is looming, you can give in to the temptations of ‘routine’ and the comfort it brings.
My teaching bucket list is therefore designed to ensure that I continue to reflect and always ensure I am trying to be better at what I do; if I’m to have high expectations of students, I need to hold myself accountable to the same standards. Routine might ensure consistency, and an amount of it is essential, but too much routine is the enemy of innovation. Innovation is crucial to effective T&L as well as CPD.
So what sort of things can go on my bucket list? Well, I’ve never organised a trip. Embarrassing I know! But I’ve always just gone on other people’s trips. I refuse to be an educational Remora fish any longer! This is quite an easy thing to achieve and also quite self-serving, so although it might make it on to my list I think I need to be more ambitious.
Try teaching ‘a lesson without PowerPoint’ I recall my PGCE tutors saying, well, I can and do that regularly. I find it both liberating and strangely chaotic. Without the warm glow of an IWB I worry I might lose them all completely. So, what if I upped the ante? How about teaching a week without PowerPoint? Like my teaching brethren of the 90s I imagine I’d have to become far better at other methods of communication. A definite contender then!
A bucket list for teaching isn’t about setting myself targets, let’s face it, appraisal covers that. This is more about forcing me outside my comfort zone and trying something I’d usually either never think of, or would shy away from. In this vein, when I created the rest of my bucket list, I tried to ensure that it was unique to me and what I need to embrace more. As such, if you want to try this, don’t just copy mine, think about what would put you out of your comfort zone. We all know students learn best when they’re being pushed at a high level – let’s try putting ourselves through the ringer then.
My Teaching Bucket List
- Arrange a trip. Any trip. But plan it, lead it and make it a success.
- Teach for a week without using PowerPoint in any lessons.
- Observe an Art lesson.
- Volunteer to lead a CPD session.
- Teach for a term with my desk facing the wall, forcing me to not hide behind it.
- Team teach with a colleague and discuss the lesson afterwards. But the colleague can’t be an English teacher.
- Be proud of my marking.
- Visit another school’s English department and look at a different way of doing things.
- Clean our English department office. Not really to do with teaching, but it is really in need of a tidy!
Feel free to share your own lists. Think I’ve forgotten any good ones?