In this episode, we chat about what you can do to get your time and wellbeing back before the holidays. By prioritising in certain areas and getting those programmes, registers and classrooms ready so you can enjoy your well deserved holidays.
I also chat about the steps you can take before next year to ensure your students get the results they should, including STRIVE, my online course which helps CAFS teachers develop a skills based approach to teaching the course which enables students to confidently and successfully tackle the HSC.
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Episode Intro - Kelly Bell:
Hey everyone. Welcome back to The Learning Network podcast. This is episode #10 and in this episode, we chat about what you can do to get your time and wellbeing back in the holidays. But really what you can do to get all those tasks done, all these tiny little things that often end up being on your big to-do list, but you often leave them to the side. So talking about programmes, registers, planning for next year, all those sorts of things that you can kind of do at the last minute, so you don't have to do them in the holidays.
Podcast Intro - Kelly:
Hey, I'm Kelly Bell. Welcome to The Learning Network Podcast. I guide Community and Family Studies teachers, newbies and experienced, through best practice to improve knowledge, increase empowerment and alleviate stress, to help you and your students to make meaningful connections across the course. I will share strategic and purposeful applications from my 16 years experience in the classroom that I have adopted to increase student motivation, enjoyment, engagement and results. Together, we will grow and transform your CAFS crew to the next level without impacting your sleep and wellbeing process. To join my free how to improve writing and fast track results webinar, head to thelearnnet.com/writing. So tune in, get inspired and let's connect, learn and grow together.
Hey, everyone, welcome to this week's episode. Now, it's week 10 of Term 4 2021 and this year has absolutely flown by and look, I'm in the classroom anymore, I'm not there, I'm not in the trenches, I am in the trenches with you but I'm not actually in the classroom. I'm supporting you guys. You are my students, you are the beautiful CAFS teachers that I get to support all across New South Wales, as well as your CAFS students inside my Year 12 MasterClasses. And I'm coming on today to admit a few things to you that I wasn't really truly aware of.
Now, I haven't been living under a rock, I know that, but I definitely have supported over 500 of you inside my offerings, inside The Learning Network, Facebook group, online courses, Coaching and Mentoring, MasterClasses and our recent conversations inside the CAFS collective, my 10-month CAFS membership.
But look, I don't know, I knew COVID was madness and I knew this year was even crazier for lots of families and friends, you know. My friends, many of them have kids ranging from, you know, 10 months old to 14/15-year-olds. And I know homeschooling was pretty hectic, it was for me last year, as a parent and as a teacher. But it wasn't until I started to have a couple of conversations with you guys a couple of weeks ago, that I've really realised the extent to which this year has again really affected teachers.
I don't know, I don't really watch the news anymore, because it's all doom and gloom and I know that there are strikes happening as we speak tomorrow, on the 7th of December, for public schools across New South Wales. I'm a realist, I know that it has been very hectic and look, I left the classroom, not mainly because of COVID, it wasn't that, it was the thing that tipped me over the edge, but there were a number of different things that caused me to have a lot of stress and to almost feel like I had shingles again. And if you haven't heard my story before, you wouldn't know that I left the classroom in 2020 in July, after being really burnt out, burnt out by the system, but also burnt out by I think the pressure that I was putting on myself. Anyway, that's a whole nother story, but I think this year I've been living in a bit of a CAFS bubble. You've heard me talk about my Nagle bubble, my bubble in Blacktown, but I think I was living in a CAFS bubble. And look, I am a very resilient person. I'm always very positive, you know, you kind of go glass half empty or glass half full. I think the half full is my version and I think I always look on the bright side of life. I'm not gonna sing to you, but I do, I am really positive. So I've been kind of sitting here at home working with you from a virtual space. I did do lots of Coaching and Mentoring at the beginning of the year before lockdown happened, and obviously, I've run lots of virtual and online events with The CAFS Conference, but also my MasterClasses and everything like that. But I don't know, I didn't really realise the impact that this year has had.
So I know that week 11 can't come soon enough for you guys. If you're in the independent system, you guys finish in a couple of days, so I'm sure you're looking forward to that. But today is really about what you can do to get that those holidays back this year, and I think it is about just going, you can't just leave school and go alright I'm done and then you have nothing to do on the holidays, there are a few little things that you need to do before you finish the term. And my list always was massive, you know, I'm a bit of a list girl and I had lots of things on my to-do list before the end of the term. One of those ones was registers. I know, I know! And being the relieving headteacher for two and a half years, you kind of hound those down and try to get them, but registers need to happen, you need to register all of your teaching and learning that's happened in your classrooms over the last term, but also, if you've left it to the last minute and haven't done it for the whole year, then you might need to do that. So that's definitely something that you need to get over and done with.
Look, for me, I used to do my registers while I actually taught. Now, I'm not, you know, sitting on a pedestal and saying that I did all the time like that I didn't, I spent the last couple of days of the term trying to register and sign off. But what I tended to find was really helpful was taking my registers to class, every single lesson. So if you like a paper-based version, or if you like paper, and your school gets you to actually handwrite your registration into your programme, then you might like this version. So I would take it to class, I would then, you know, differentiate or add an add a few things into my programme, like, handwritten wise, and I would annotate it, I would cross out anything I didn't do or amended or change it, add the date. And I would do that, you know, during class. So if there's a bit of downtime with my kids, I would then quickly register what I was doing in that particular lesson. If I had set a task for them, and they had to do some writing, obviously I'm not gonna sit there and talk to every single kid they're trying to write, I would then do my register right there and then. So that's the paper-based version, taking it to class. And I had a special folder, nerd, I know, I had a special for a clip folder, but also just, I think in the end, I ended up using maybe just a, I don't know some sort of folder, I can't remember what it was, maybe a plastic sleeve in the end, just putting my programme in there. I would take my programme to class and I would actually register right there and then, so I actually had it there, done and dusted.
If you aren't paper-based, if your school likes you to register electronically, you could whip your laptop out and actually register into your programme right there and then as you're teaching it. Something I've seen that's really good is making any changes to your programme like in pink, or in green, you could even do your 'green for growth, pink for positive,' I don't know. You could have your new amendments in green and then that's what you use for your next year to actually do your programme, delete anything that you haven't used or you haven't done, or anything that's a bit stale, then you might like to kind of use that programme for the year after. And then you actually register electronically right there and then.
Anyway, that's the first one out the way registers. I know they are painful and they sit there but they're a mandatory document that we have to have.
Now the other thing that you might need to do is do a bit of a tidy up. Get the kids to help you with your CAFS classroom, or your PE or TAS classroom. But just make sure kids have taken home all their resources, all of their assignments, their assessments, especially if they're in year 11, oh sorry, if they're in year 12, they're just starting year 12. Any assessments that you've handed back to them, make sure they take them home because it's valuable feedback to them on how they're going. Make sure you're kind of tidying up cupboards, all that sort of stuff and do a big spring clean of your classroom before you finish. And look get your kids to help you I'm sure they would absolutely love to do that, especially your junior kids. Getting their hands dirty is something that, I don't know, it's a bit of a time saver getting the kids to help you. And they love it, they love organising, many of them do, not all.
Yeah, so that's another thing you can kind of do, set your classroom up for next year. You know that I have lots of posters and stuff available for you guys on my website, thelearnnet.com is where you can find them. Acronyms. If you've bought any of my revision resources from my website, you'll have, you know, lots of things that you can put up in your classroom. You can also you know, download some quotes, head to Kmart,
I know one of my early podcast episodes I spoke about this but going to Kmart, giving yourself a budget and going you know what I've got 50 bucks to spend, how am I going to make my classroom even more inviting for next year. And doing it there and then, rather than waiting until the holidays and going in your holidays, in that last week of January. I know some of you do that, I know I'm guilty, and to put my hand up and say that, but you know you need to just protect your time and wellbeing get yourself sorted, get your classroom all done and dusted, ready to go for the next year.
So the first one's about registers, getting those sorted. The next one is about just having a good spring clean in your classroom.
The third one is thinking about how you might like to set your classroom up physically next year. Now I know budgets have pretty much dried up for the year but something you might like to think about is what your classroom would look like furniture wise in 2022.
Now I'm a really big advocate for flexible furniture or future-focused learning spaces. And what that looks like is basically no rows, no individual desks but just having a whole different variety of things for the kids to, you know, enjoy their classroom. So If you have a good budget, and you put a proposal in with your principal, they might be able to get you some flexible furniture, some wobble stools or some stand up desks like I had in my classroom last year, which I loved. My kids didn't always like them, my boys did, the PE boys I had in my class, beautiful kids, they graduated in 2019. They were amazing, such a great class, probably my favourite class of my whole career actually. Huge shout out to that PE class, if any of you guys are listening. But my boys love the stand-up desks because they could just stand there. If they were feeling a bit jittery or if they were feeling a bit distracted, or they needed to kind of move around, they could still do that. And you know, being a PE class, we knew the power of standing and not sitting all the time. You know, sitting is the new smoking, that kind of tagline. But yeah, speaking to your principal about some flexible furniture. You might have some beanbags, you might have a little chill out space in your classroom, that type of thing, they're the sorts of things that you might like to think about when you're looking at flexible furniture. Of course, there are, you know, organisations, there are companies that help you with this. And look, a one classroom fit-out can be in the excess of $20,000 and that is not ideal when your budget is low. So you can do the bare minimum, you can DIY it with some beanbags and stuff from Kmart or just even some cushions from Kmart, a little rug or a little mat for the kids to sit around or in and just changing up the way the desks are, getting rid of those rows, all those individual desks and creating collaborative learning spaces for the kids.
So that's about setting your classroom, physical space up for next year. Of course, if you've run out of money this year, then that might look a little bit different for next year. But if you're, you know, if you just have your desks, just changing the way you have your seating plan, or your desks into collaborative learning spaces, is probably a great way to go.
Look, the fourth thing that I want to speak about is really having some goals in mind for 2022, and goals around, I suppose boundaries and your time and wellbeing. And I think, you know, as I mentioned, 2020 and 21, with two years that we won't forget as Community and Family Studies teachers, or parents or teachers in general, because it has been very hectic, but setting up some goals for yourself in terms of boundaries, you know, I'm going to leave here at 3:20 or 3:30, I'm going to get home at this time, I'm not going to whip my laptop out again, if you heard my conversation with my friend Dan Jackson, around teacher burnout and wellbeing you would know and what I mean by that. But not whipping that laptop out at the end of the night, closing the lid and going to bed, your sleep is so important. So that might be something as well that you might like to think about, setting some goals around sleep, you know, if you go to bed at nine o'clock, getting yourself up in the morning, going for a walk, going to the gym or doing whatever you like to do, doing some meditation or some mindfulness before we kick start your day. But that sleep, that solid seven or eight hours is so crucial for our bodies to recover, not just physically but mentally as well.
Look I learned from my mistakes. In 2018 When I started at a new school new system, headteacher, relieving headteacher, well-being and PE, I became very burnt out and I got shingles that year. It wasn't pretty and I really regret a lot of the things I did that year. And one of them obviously was not looking after myself. I was still eating the same, I was still exercising like I did, but you know what, I wasn't sleeping, and I was stressed to the eyeballs. So I put on so much weight that year, it wasn't funny, I wasn't really looking after myself, physically. And I thought I was okay, I thought I was fine, but once that that emotional kind of
toll, or that stress had on my body, it then you know, turned out in a physical sense. I then got shingles and I thought shingles was something that you know, aged people get and I had it, I got it at 37.
Anyway, looking after yourself and getting some sleep is really important. But also you know, doing those things that know that we always advocate to our kids eating, you know, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, making sure you drink plenty of water, that type of thing. And the sleep one, we need to also have that sleep.
I think around that idea of teacher wellbeing is also having boundaries at your workplace. So boundaries about checking emails after hours, boundaries about being contactable after hours, boundaries around being bombarded with questions in your own classroom or meeting time, administrivia, all those sorts of things that you might have heard me speak about in my podcast with Dan Jackson. So just look, having a really good audit of what you're doing.
The other thing I want you guys to think about are CAFS goals that you have for your CAFS class. Now I've supported many of you for nearly 18 months now. And I have absolutely loved and thrived on seeing you guys blossom inside our learning together. So I'd love for you to set some goals for yourself around your CAFS class. You might be listening to this when you get your HSC results, when your get 20 kids get your HSC results but there's still part of you, looking at those and going okay, what do I need to do to set my kids up for success for next year? Because there are some small little things, some tiny tweaks that we can make in our CAFS journey to make some really big impacts. And I have spoken a lot about those inside my CAFS courses, my membership, my online courses, especially in Strive and those sorts of things, but just some tiny tweaks that we can kind of do to make some big changes in our CAFS classroom. And I'll probably do a whole podcast episode about this about HSC results next year, but I really want you guys to look critically at those, step back from it and go, Okay, what can I do to really help my students for next year? That's the most feedback that we can get is, you know, looking at our HSC results and going okay, what can I learn from this? And look, we can't sit the HSC for our kids, we definitely can't do that, but we can kind of gain and glean a lot from the kids' results; are we above the state average? Have my option results increased? How are we travelling with our multiple choice? Are our kids sitting at that 15 to 16? If they are what are we not doing to get them to that 17, 18, 19 mark? You can't control what your kids do in your class, you can't control the N/As, the N/As that they do, or the N warnings that you might have to hand out, but you can definitely put lots of things in place to really support them.
The last thing I wanted to mention is having some goals around productivity and efficiency. So working smarter, working more efficiently in your classroom and getting back to the core business of teaching. And again, I mentioned this in our podcast episode with Dan. But look, there's so much time that we spend on admin and so much time that we spend on fluffy stuff, things that aren't actually moving the needle in our CAFS class, but also things that aren't setting our kids up for success. So I really want you guys to take a good, hard look at what you're doing, not in a negative way, but to kind of go, I'm just gonna do a whole big 360 on how I'm doing things in the CAFS classroom. And I think next year, I'll definitely be doing lots of little podcast episodes about what that looks like. But it could be you know, do I need to tweak my scope and sequence for your 11? What do I want to finish on? What do I want to have in the middle? You have to start with resource management you can't not start with it and if anyone tells you not to, then they're kidding themselves, you have to start that.
How are you teaching the option in year 12? Are you finishing on that? Are you still doing it like that? Or have you taken on some of my advice about teaming it up with your IRP, and possibly having it as your second unit in your scope and sequence. And I think something that I've been able to observe, you know, in social media, and even in conversations with some of you is this idea about getting back to basics, and really improving the kids writing right from the very beginning, improving how they structure their responses, but also what they do with Glossary of Keywords, that type of thing. So if you're thinking that that might be one of your goals for next year, Strive is the perfect course for that. Now, it is, you know, not just for new teachers, it is for teachers who are still maybe not getting the results that their kids want and you want in your school because there's just some small things that we can do to make some big changes.
The other thing that I've also observed in the last, you know, say 12 months, more importantly, is this idea about wellbeing. So I just wanted to quickly jump on today and also mentioned that in this podcast episode, but wellbeing is like the umbrella of our course, it's like the backbones of it, but it's not the be-all and end-all. It is a concept that we definitely want our kids to come away with and I know that we're advocates for wellbeing, it is the crux of our course. However, we can't make our students talk about wellbeing in every single one of their responses. In a past CAFS life, our course was like that, we had to talk about wellbeing in our short answers, so I'm talking about Parenting and Caring and Groups in Context. We don't have to do that anymore. We only include wellbeing when it is stipulated, when it is mentioned in the question and in our option in part c. So wellbeing if it's in the question, if it's a question about the impact on parenting and their wellbeing or the impact of Groups in Context in relation to community attitudes, or the dependent for Parenting and Caring, whatever it might be, we look at wellbeing there, if it's in the question. If it doesn't state wellbeing in the question, we don't have to talk about it unless we're talking about in our Part C for our option, that's the 15 marker. In our 15 marker our rubric tells us we need to link back to wellbeing in every single part of our response.
Now, if you have no idea what I'm talking about here, you need to go to the NASA website and check out our marking guidelines for past, you know, 20 or 15 years or so of our CAFS course. You need to talk about wellbeing every single one of your paragraphs, the kids need to do that, in order to gain maximum marks for the exam. So if you have no idea where I'm talking about, I'll give you some guidance in the show notes if you head over to thelearnnet.com/10, I'll give you some links where I'm talking about where that should appear. Again, if you need some help with that, Strive is a perfect course for you, to show you what that looks like to really help your kids improve on their writing, but also improve what they do inside the option. Because look, it's a game-changer, it is a complete game-changer in CAFS. If you don't do well in the option, there is a pretty big chance you're not going to do well overall, because that's where the marks are, 15 marks up for grabs, including wellbeing and linking it back to wellbeing all the way through.
Again, Strive is a perfect course for you if you'd like to improve on that area, especially for wellbeing and that sort of thing. But please let me know if you have any questions about anything that I've mentioned today. And as the year draws to an end, I want to let you guys know that you need to be kind to yourself, there's only about a week and a half left to go but please be kind to yourself and look after your wellbeing. Your family need it during Christmas time, but also, you want to have a nice, enjoyable holidays and not have to do all this work that you've either left to the last minute in terms of registers, but also put on your big list.
So, until next week, I will see you guys later. Let me know if you have any questions and I will catch you later.
Kelly - Outro:
Thanks for joining The Learning Network, I'd love to hear what connected with you most about today's episode. Take a screenshot and tag me on Instagram and Facebook, @thelearnnet. If you'd like to know more about my courses, MasterClasses, Coaching and Mentoring and Membership, you can DM me over on Facebook or Instagram or head to thelearnnet.com. Don't forget to stay connected by subscribing to Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and if you love today's episode, I would be so honoured if you could please leave me a review. See you again next week. Let's continue to connect, grow and learn together to make a huge impact on the students we teach.
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