AITSL The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

5 Inspiring Tips To Start The School Year

Margery Evans vodcast

Transcript - Margery Evans vodcast 70KB RTF

5 Inspiring Tips To Start The School Year - Margery Evans, Chief Executive Officer of AITSL, 7 February 2014.

It's that time of the year. I Googled 'back to school' and found that the top hits were for a stationery store, a movie, the same movie, a shoe shop and ... well, you get the drift. Nothing wrong with a bit of consumerism, but caveat emptor!

So, where does one go when seeking inspiration at the start of the school year? The Internet is, of course, as good a source as any so perhaps it’s my search skills that are lacking.

If you are scanning the Internet, and even if you're not, you could do far worse than check out the AITSL Toolkit for teachers. Though I say so myself, it's packed with good ideas, support and advice that have been created by, with and for teachers and school leaders. Better still this inspiration won't cost you a cent.

If you dig deeply enough you'll also find the odd video of me on AITSL's YouTube channel – I’m the one looking uncomfortable. At least I can say I've been there, done that, so I don't feel any guilt at all in exhorting others in our profession to get themselves in front of the camera as well.

Film yourself doing what you do best -- teaching -- and then share your inspirational ideas with your colleagues via the Great Teaching Ideas platform. I know for most in our profession that's quite a way out of our comfort zone, but sharing classroom practice using video has the potential to revolutionise the way teachers learn and collaborate.

1. Inspiration number one: do something professionally that you haven't done before.

Deliberately set out to be creative and innovative in your approach to teaching and dare to share the results with your colleagues.

Inspired teaching, like any great art, should be seen.


2. Inspiration number two: join or start a group or better still a movement

Like those established by the great artists and writers, so they could discuss and develop their craft with their contemporaries. From such groups come opportunities to grow and develop professionally, and enjoy the company and challenge of spending time and collaborating with like-minded colleagues.

Many teachers and school leaders across the country are already involved in professional learning that brings them together with their peers in formal or less formal settings. If you're not one of them make 2014 the year you join or start a group with the goal of sharing your accumulated professional wisdom and learning from others. You could use the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and/or the Australian Professional Standard for Principals as a basis for your discussions.  

Teachmeet is an inspirational example of educators across the country learning from each other. 

Sharing and collaboration are cornerstones of our profession as is the ability to inquire into and reflect what we do and why we do it.


3. Inspiration number three: ask questions about your professional values.

Constructive professional challenges are what make us grow.  In your school, or more generally among your colleagues, ask what values underpin and guide your work. Values are such an integral part of our profession. Revisiting and re-stating your professional values at the beginning of the teaching year will help you to focus on what matters.

And now that you're focusing on what counts, ask yourself one further question: how will I know when I've made a difference? It helps to consider these two key principles:

  • all young Australians deserve the opportunity to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens

  • the main in-school determinant of student success is the quality of teaching and school leadership.


4. Inspiration number four: focus on knowing how you make a difference to students and their learning.

 Being able to recognise and articulate your impact on students’ learning and growth will enhance your professional satisfaction and help ensure that every student you come into contact with succeeds in an education with having.

Those last words, 'that every student succeeds in an education with having' are important enough to repeat and make the basis for my fifth and final inspiration - for this blog, at least.


5. Inspiration five: find a way to make sure that every student succeeds.

If our education system is to be truly successful, we need to find ways to ensure that every individual in every school achieves success. Success will look different for each young person and as teachers and school leaders we are key to that success. Make sure everyone in your school knows what it feels like to be successful.

2014 should be a year of growth and development for teachers and school leaders. I hope that you have returned to school inspired and ready to focus on professional growth and the success of yourselves, your colleagues and your students.

Where are you finding your inspiration this year?

PS - I know it’s the time of the year for renewal and fresh starts, but for some reason I feel strangely compelled to shop for shoes and stationery; but not until I've been to see this great movie I just heard about.


Submitted by Belinda (not verified) on

Tis refreshing to read an article about 'Back to School' that focuses on inspiration rather than display board banners & classroom printables. Yes, these are important to create an engaging learning environment, but it is th teacher her/himself who makes the difference. The focus should always be on the to develop yourself, how to inspire, how to engage & how better to use data to inform teaching & learning to ensure optimum achievement of outcomes for all students.

Submitted by herma4685 (not verified) on

loved the post!

Submitted by brandee4626 (not verified) on

I do consider all of the ideas you've presented for your post.

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