Posted by: markhowell101 | October 9, 2010

I think I am getting better at this……. or am I??

5 weeks in to the year and I felt it was a good time to take stock of where I am and how it compares to last year. There is no doubt in my mind that I am a far better teacher than I was 12 months ago with both teaching and learning in my classroom greatly improved in since my NQT year. I have improved the quality of the delivery of my lessons and improved student understanding of topics covered and what is expected of them in the lesson. I am also much better now at spotting student mistakes and coming up with constructive ways for them to improve both through marking and through formative assessment. Most clearly this has manifested itself with my new year 10’s who are already well ahead of where my current year 11 were a year ago in terms of knowledge and understanding but also in terms of exam craft and GCSE expectations. Finally, I believe that behaviour in my class is greatly improved as a result of being a more recognised member of staff and as a result of being better at managing challenging behaviour.

All this is a tremendous success for me and I am really pleased with the progress of the last 12 months. However, I do feel that all this has come at the expense of something.

Part of my early success in teaching came from a creativity I never thought I had. From day 1, experienced teachers with whom I worked commented on my ability to create new, interesting and engaging ways of delivering lessons and tasks to students. Through delivering lessons like this I had very few behaviour problems whilst doing my PGCE as genuinely most students were keen to be in my lesson and keen to listen to me, even in my second placement which was a tricky school in special measures.

However, it has become very clear to me over the past couple of months that I am beginning to lose this creative edge. Over the summer I had to write some schemes of work and I really struggled to think of interesting way to teach some things and equally I have struggled since going back in September. Now, of course, I have been saved slightly by the fact this is my 3rd year planning lessons now and I am able to rehash good ones from previous years, but I can’t think of anything particularly new and noteworthy that I have come up with all year. I guess this is a result of taking on other things within school which consume my time and me realising the need to retain some kind of social life beyond school.

It must be said that I am enjoying teaching more and more at the minute (with one or two exceptional moment this year aside) but I am disappointed with myself that the creative moment I had 2 years ago is already subsiding. Whilst I almost never stick to targets I am going to aim to develop from scratch a top drawer lesson every week during next term in order to try and get back some of that which I feel I have lost. But as anyone who’s occupation requires creativity will know, to try and force it is the worst thing you can do. Still, will hopefully be able to blog at Christmas will 7 great creative lessons to tell the world about.



  1. A really interesting & reflective post Mark. I’m so glad that you feel more settled now but sad with you that you feel you have lost that creative edge. The fact that you recognise this will mean that it will return, perhaps not in every lesson but enough to be noticed by your students. If they start to play, you will start to think about the content I’m sure! (aka theheadsoffice)

  2. This is an interesting one, and I can really see where you are coming from. I did the same presentation recently three times for different audiences. The first went fine but I was nervous, it seemed rushed and perhaps could have improved. The second time I felt like a new what I was doing a bit more, but there was still some nervous energy to it. It went much better and whilst it wasn’t perfect my ad libs worked really well and the audience and I really engaged with each other.

    The third time I thought it would get even better, but it didn’t. I had already done it all before so I was more confident, more relaxed and it didn’t have the same energy or engagement. This happens when you get more used to doing things.

    The question is, was the third presentation really not as good, or was it actually better but just that I didn’t enjoy it as much without the adrenaline?

    Would you say your students are learning more due to the fact you are more seasoned, but you are enjoying it less? Maybe that suggests the second answer to my question.

    I used to agree with you about forcing creativity being the worst thing to do, but I am not so sure I do these days.

    Seth Godin puts this idea far better than I could:

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