A flexi friend

7th December 2007 at 00:00

Sara Bubb on why you shouldn't give up on structure at this hectic time of year. How flexible are you? No, I'm not talking about yoga or Pilates positions, but how you cope when things don't go according to plan. All teachers need to be flexible because no matter how well prepared you are, you can't stop children having bad days, throwing wobblies or being tired. And you certainly can't control the effects of the weather. A windy day will have even your sensible stalwarts acting like whirling dervishes. And that's what makes teaching such fun - and so hard.

Flexibility and the ability to think on your feet are even more necessary at this time of year. Your planning will need to be more flexible as the term goes on, when all semblance of normality disappears in a spray of snowdust. Lessons will be cancelled in the run-up to festive events and curtailed or interrupted because of practices and overrunning assemblies. There'll be lots of wet break times and that's an added nightmare because keeping kids occupied, out of mischief and ready for learning in these conditions is tough, regardless of age.

Don't give up on structure. As the disruption and poor behaviour gets worse, life will be easier if you keep pupils occupied until the last minute. You're unlikely to cover as much of the curriculum as you want so you need to prioritise, know what to cut and have plenty of time- fillers.

Get some ideas from more experienced colleagues who've been through this season, survived and even enjoyed it. They'll have worksheets with a festive flavour, and a bank of great games that you can squeeze something educational into.

The TES resource bank (www.tes.co.ukresources) has fantastic lifesavers. Fancy making advent calendars or snowflakes? There is a template for every occasion. Need to do numeracy? Try a problem-solving activity based around the 12 days of Christmas

Sara Bubb is an educational consultant specialising in induction. She regularly answers questions at www.tes.co.ukstaffroomnew_teachers

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