Sharing joy and knowledge from an ordinary life

Starting the year- Day 1

“Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.”

(Ralph Marston, author of The Daily Motivator)

This year, I’ll be teaching an A2 English group. The advantages for lesson one are that they know the building already, most of them know one another, most of them know how I teach and behave and I know most of them- their hopes, aspirations, skills, attributes, likes, dislikes and habits.

Day 1 for us then is an introduction to the new course. Most of them have interacted with this over the summer:

The first lesson will involve interaction with poetry, some of the logistical things and beginning more reflective practice: some subject content to hook them in and some reflection as it will shape much of the year ahead.

Grit and Growth Mindset

I’m exposing my learners to this early on in the year. I’m undecided what the impact will be yet but I’m almost sure it won’t have detrimental effect so let’s see…

What’s it all about and how can it help you?

Poetry Treasure Hunt

I want to see how their summer poetry project has been going so around the building, I will have placed the nation’s top 10 poems. They’ll be given some easy clues to navigate to them (the point is for them not to solve the clues but to engage with the poems when they get there). The locations will be places I’ll expect them to use well over the coming year (in ways they may not be used to).

They’ll have 20 minutes to find as many of the poems as they can (in pairs) and for each, they’ll complete one of these:

Poetry Reaction Sheet

Name of poem: ___________________________________________________


What do you think the poem’s themes are?______________________________________________________________


What surprises you about this poem?




Score out of 10: ________

What lead to this score?




We’ll then have an opportunity to discuss our favourites and reactions as a group, hopefully reviewing some key terminology as we talk about the poems’ features.

They’ll be given their overview of the year.

We’ll sign and discuss ‘Great Expectations

They’ll create their name cards (crucial for groupings throughout the year)

They’ll ensure I have an email address, phone number for them and accurate contact details for their parents/guardians.

And crucially, we’ll review last year and set targets for the coming year:

View the document here

The first few questions will allow me to gauge their mood at the start of the year. 

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The other side of the sheet will allow learners to reflect on last year: disappointments, skills gained (or begun to develop), successes and, crucially, what their targets are for this year and how they’ll be achieving them. 

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However your start to the new term looks, my advice would be to ensure that expectations are set and maintained, your learners engage with some subject content early and you begin the habits and practice of learning that will exist in the fabric of your classroom for the year to come.

My writing commitment: I’m learning to honour my thoughts. I’m learning that my words can be shared before I’ve connected all the dots or learned everything there is to know. My writing can be a snapshot of a single moment in continually-evolving time.

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