Top tips for teachers returning to school

Top tips for teachers returning to school

As schools reopen this week, we asked five Fellows in education to share their top tips for fellow teachers.

A teacher writing on a blackboard
"Create a positive environment by praising good behaviour, good work and engagement in lessons." - Ian Kell, Fellow

“Remember that everyone is excited and nervous about being back at school - from the pupils to the headteacher. Practice empathy with everyone and take time out to breathe. It will take time to build back relationships, so concentrate on relationships first and foremost, as it will pay dividends in the end.” - Jane Pepa (CF 2020), Headteacher

“Returning to school this academic year will be unusual for a number of obvious reasons. The months since March have been challenging on many levels, for both teachers and students. Speaking and listening are perhaps the skills which young people have developed least. I'd encourage teachers to promote oracy in their classrooms (and the staffroom) on their return. Think about the questions you will ask, and to whom. Plan a few questions for your class so that you're prepared for the reunion, and consider the questions they might ask you.” - Arlene Holmes-Henderson (CF 2013), Senior Research Fellow in Education

The majority of students returning to education in this post-pandemic world are likely to feel slightly anxious about the exposure to others. As teachers we will have to manage our own anxiety around returning to busy classrooms on top of managing young people’s anxiety. For teachers, it is essential to reassure young people that anxiety is a normal emotion which everyone experiences. This is really important in helping young people to overcome their return to full-time education.” - Joanna Driscoll, Director of Mental Health and Wellbeing

“You’ve been counting down the days to return to school, now make the days count. Start by reminding yourself why you became a teacher. If one of the reasons you wanted to become a teacher was to inspire young minds, strive to make students feel valued. Create a positive environment by praising good behaviour, good work and engagement in lessons. Preparation is key, so make sure you have a range of activities to suit every learning style. Most importantly, smile with your new classes.” - Ian Kell (CF 2019), Maths teacher

“Try to find a way to leave school work at school. This could be the physical act of not taking marking home with you, or the mental separation of ‘switching off’ from school life altogether. Disabling email notifications from your phone, heading out for an evening run, or meeting up for dinner with friends, are all great ways to maintain a positive work-life balance.” - Paul Middleton (CF 2019), History teacher


The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.


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