As teachers, we face the reality that our job is never really *done.* There is always more planning to do, more work to be assessed, and more organizing that could be done. There are parents to call, meetings to attend, and paperwork to be completed. The idea of setting a resolution this New Year that relates to the job is…well, a bit overwhelming.
But I’ve got you. I’m here with some ideas. I’m setting one (or two…three…six) of these for myself this year, because even though there is always SOMETHING else to do before you head home to your family on a Monday afternoon, there’s always room to grow, too.
Grow your professional learning network: One of the greatest influencers of my teaching has been Twitter. I can scroll through when I wake up, when I head to bed, and any amount of time in between for some serious inspiration from other real life teachers. I follow other educators, authors, and universities that frequently post quality ideas related to building relationships in the classroom, the workshop model, and technology. If you are a teacher and you’re not on Twitter yet for the purpose of growing your professional learning network, this would be a G R E A T resolution for you! You can follow me @wildandfreein3 and check out who I’m following for some solid suggestions!
You can check out my post on PLNs to learn more about expanding your own: 3 Ways for Teachers to Grow a Professional Learning Network.
Read a new and uplifting education book that will ignite that “go get it” attitude in you. In education, we are inundated with materials to read about new evidence-based learning and research-based practices. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find books to enhance your pedagogy because there is just. so. much. and to be honest, some of it is super fluffy stuff. It’s important to do your research on these books, read the reviews, and check out the author. One of my favorites from the past year has been Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning. One on my list for this year is A Teacher’s Guide to Writing Conferences: Classroom Essentials by Carl Andersen. ( ( I saw him speak about this book last year before it was officially published and I began using a few of the tips he shared in my own classroom and it has already transformed how I confer with writers. ) )
Get your teacher wellness in order! As a relatively new teacher, I’m still working on this BIG time. It’s taken me three years to *start* to put some of my needs first so I can show up to school full and energized for the day. This includes nailing down my yoga schedule (and sticking to it), getting my hair cut more than once a year (yeah…I said it), visiting the infrared sauna during the winter months, and buying myself little gifts once a month. I shared a few more ways I take care of myself during the school year here if you want some more ideas: Teacher Wellness All Ways on All Days.
Up the || P O S I T I V I T Y ||. It is really, really easy to get sucked into the ever-spinning and powerful vortex of negative thinking, especially when your job entails waiting for change in the long-term and roadblocks are around every turn (it seems). This is so much easier said than done, which makes it a great resolution. You have to put work into changing your mindset from doom to optimism because it is HARD. One way to make a little change is to keep a gratitude journal and jot down three positive that happened every day. Another way to do this is to end each day with your students by telling a partner something great that was the highlight of the school day. You could also set daily intentions to build some of that positivity into your teaching life. Be mindful of this, though: it’s OK to be frustrated and upset about things in the system. That will power the need for change and betterment, BUT…don’t get sucked into the vortex. Push yourself into the light by writing down your frustrations, ripping it up, and tossing it in the trash. Let that negativity GO!
Get to know your students better as individual human beings. Can you name ten things you know about each student OUTSIDE of academics? Ten things. Whoa. Creating a resolution to get to know your students better will create some seriously great dynamics in your classroom. Have deep conversations with students about their hobbies and interests, their families and wishes, their fears and their goals. When you do this, you create an everlasting bond with your students that will lift your own spirits but also pay off dividends in behavior, redirection, and academic work. Challenge yourself to write down ten things you know about each of your students right now. Then, notice the students you have the least amount of information on or connections to and make it a priority in the new year to learn several new things about those students in the coming weeks.
Empower your students and center learning around them. This is huge. Colossal, some may say. It’s a great undertaking, but there are teachers out there who lead student-centered classrooms with personalized learning models and they are killing it! It’s about taking small steps towards letting students take charge of their learning and understanding how the process works. Learn more about what personalized learning is. Read some articles. Check out some books. Create or get learning progressions. Better understand how to confer with students. A colleague of mine, Kate, recommends reading Students at the Center: Personalized Learning with Habits of the Mind. (Pssst…this is also on my reading list this year!) You can follow Kate on Twitter @kate_belanger!
Drop a comment below and let me know what your teacher resolution is for this New Year!
Isabelle MacDonald is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for her to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.