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Start of Year rituals: the year plan

Updated: Sep 4, 2022

The new academic year has begun. Teachers are well rested but no doubt viewing the workload of the coming weeks with some trepidation. We have all been there, we have the best of intentions but we find that we are marking our Year 10 mocks, writing Year 8 reports and have two sets of A level essays during the same week. We then attempt to solve the problem by marking during the next GCSE lesson. This requires that we set the group... another past exam question. As the group leave the room you hear yourself say 'I'll get that back to you by Monday.'

How do we avoid this? One thing I started to do quite early in my teaching career was to use a year plan. (I wrote about it in chapter 32 of 'The Elephant in the Staffroom) One of my start of year rituals is to fill it in. I have just finished this year's in the last few days.

You will probably need to design your own table as everyone has different classes, roles and responsibilities. Once you have settled on the layout, the process is as follows

1. Sort out your dates - get your school calendar and put in the parents evenings, the report deadlines, the exam weeks, the data drops, the school play - anything that will impact you. Having these onhand will elevate you to the status of staffroom guru. Don't be that teacher who never knows when anything is...

2. Teaching: For each class of year group - or subject in primary - add in roughly what you will be teaching each week - just a key word or topic taken from your scheme of work. You know that some of these require more preparation than others.

3. Assessment: Then for each class - what will you need to mark and by when. Where you have flexibility, try to schedule key assessments so that they don't all clash (so you are not marking everyone's work in the same week) or you are not doing too much marking during a heavy report week. We can probably all be a little smarter in terms of what we mark - I have some ideas here and Victoria Hewitt's (@MrsHumanities) is excellent on this. Remember the important thing is feedback not marking. As you do your assessment plans for the year, ask yourself what you can cut or do differently.

4. Transfer Data to your markbook: I am a big fan of IDoceo on the iPad - it has seating plans and tools that enable you to average grades etc. You can even use it as a lesson planner. I suspect I don't use it to its full potential

5. All the rest: there are many other things we do as teachers. Setting shorter pieces of work, scheduling support, arranging meetings, clubs. At the start of the year look for the pressure points - are you really going to arrange a trip for that week? Start to plan and slot in those other things that need to be done.

6. Life outside: Remember that you are not just a teacher. Are there key family or household things/events that you don't want to miss. It sounds crazy but add them to this one document so they don't get forgotten.

7. Try to stick to it - there may be the odd week where it comes crashing down, but it will mostly work and you will feel more on top of your workload.

You have probably spent an hour or so of the last day of your holiday or your first weekend doing all this but I promise you that it will pay off; whilst there may be the odd week where things don't go quite to plan, you will be glad of this one-stop document on several occasions during the year.

If you try the year planning for the first time I would be really interested in how you get on.

Does it work for you as it does for me?

Do you have any other start of year rituals that save you time later in the year? #startoftermrituals

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