Your school is a community and a good way to enrich your year as a teacher is to participate in this community. Some good reasons for getting involved include, opportunities to share your expertise or vision for the school, getting to interact and connect with students and parents in a supportive but more informal way, and being part of the spirit of the school. This year, someone may ask you to get involved by organizing extra-curricular sports and clubs for students, or by taking on administrative roles such as a Parent Council, Union, or Safe and Caring Schools Representative. Here are some things you may want to consider before you make a decision.
Anything you do outside the classroom means you have to be able to take time to do whatever you decide to take on. Make sure that you do not overdo it! I have seen new teachers sign up for as many extra-curricular activities as possible because they think they should, only to have to bow out of many due to a lack of time. Being too stretched time wise can also affect your enthusiasm for the activity and you may begin to look forward to it less and less. Remembering to balance time for your job and your life outside of work is of the utmost importance. Do not feel bad if you have to decline a request to start a club or help coach a team. It is best to become involved only when you have the time and energy! You may lose lunch hours, have to come in extra early some mornings, or stay later after school to make it happen. Some years may be better than others. Do it when you are ready.
And not everyone is able to give more of their time. There may be childcare or family obligations, lack of proximity to the school, or health concerns which may present challenges for someone wishing to coach Girls’ Soccer, for example. Also, taking Additional Qualifications or going back to school to complete a Masters’ degree may not be the best time for you to engage directly in extra-curricular activities at your school. Your studies will ultimately benefit your school community and so while you are studying, your job as a classroom teacher and your life as a student are already big responsibilities and commitments.
If you are looking for ways to become involved, breaking the school community into 3 parts may help organize how you want to participate and budget your time. Firstly, consider your academic obligations towards your own students. Secondly, you may be interested in working with colleagues and parents in the administration of the school. And thirdly, you may be ready to offer your time to run a club or sport involving students in the whole school.
Using this guide, I have always been able to manage time to run a math club or homework help all year long for my students. And in the last 10 years, I find I have become more interested in taking on administrative roles and enjoy being part of the Safe and Caring Schools initiative – going to workshops and promoting social justice resources and issues at school. And lastly, if I can, I take on a sports or arts club once a week before or after school for part of the year. For example, coaching Track and Field in May and June, or organizing International Dance Day for one day in April. I used to have much more energy and was very happy to run a couple of clubs and teams at the same time. Now, I realize I am able to be useful in more administrative areas of the school community and so I happily leave the running of the teams and clubs I used to enjoy to the younger (more energetic) teachers.