Most of us use the calendar-year-flip as a launching ground for new intentions and resolutions, both personal and professional. As a teacher, the New Year is really the Mid-Year, which offers double the impact; not only can you put intentions out there for the calendar year, you also have the opportunity to start anew with your current classroom(s) even though it's technically mid-stream. Here are some ideas for setting goals which are entirely attainable, and which will help you to be the best teacher, mentor, and colleague, you can be.
5 Resolutions We Promise Teachers Will Be Able to Keep (if they promise to try...)
- Truly listen. Wow. This one seems so simple but can be so hard in practice. The fast-paced school day creates an environment in which a teacher's mind is always racing to keep up. This means that while our students, their parents, or our colleagues are speaking, we might not truly be listening. Do you find yourself running through your list of after-school-errands when your classroom neighbor is asking you for advice? Are your students' concerns really being heard or are your eyes glazing over while you compose a future email in your head? While the classroom schedule needs to stay relatively on-track, that doesn't mean you can't take a moment here and/or there to genuinely listen to what others are saying.
- Be Playful. When it's your turn for recess duty, consider participating in a game rather than standing on the sidelines. If you're teaching at the secondary level, try running to grab a ball that has been thrown out of bounds on the lunchtime basketball courts, or visit a colleague's P.E. class during your prep. Playing with students is a great way to honor them, and to remind them that you are an actual human being. Plus, it's good to move your body and get your heart rate up every once in a while.
- See the humor in everything. Try to think back to last year (or last semester, or last week) and remember a situation that wasn't so pleasant at the time. Have you been able to look back and laugh at it yet? In most cases, humans have the ability to retrospectively see the humor in almost everything, so why not implement that talent in the present moment? It makes life significantly more pleasant - and balanced - to do so. Make one of your resolutions to laugh at least once a day, even if it's at yourself, and you're guaranteed to enjoy your work days a little bit more.
- Do you have favorites? We'd all like to think we don't play favorites, but if you’re honest with yourself, you probably have one or two. Take an honest and critical look at how you treat all of your students, especially the quiet ones or those that challenge your patience. Now dig for positive qualities in all of them.
Shining the light on the wall flowers, or the negative attention seekers, will improve the depth of your student/teacher relationships and may benefit your overall classroom management as well.
- Chill out. The bottom line is that you'll never actually reach, well, the bottom line. As organized as you may be, you can't control everything, which means things will happen to muck up your day. Try to take a deep breath and let the little things go. Enjoy the teachable moments that are happenstance, and let some of the planned ones join the collective conscious. Accepting that you won't be able to accomplish everything will make you more able to enjoy the process.
To help you supplement the “new you” and transform your classroom into a fresh, positive environment, check out our Bucket Filling guide. Inside, you'll find more creative ways to nurture kindness and respect in your students and their learning environment.