I love a clean slate, a new calendar, and the optimism that a new year brings. I enjoy the idea of making positive changes for myself and those around me. A new year pushes me to think about my life and resolve to do better. The same applies to my teaching—it’s a great opportunity for me to set goals for myself in the classroom, so I’ve come up with six teaching resolutions for 2018. I think these resolutions will be beneficial for myself, my students, and maybe even other educators out there.
Here is my plan to get the new year started on the right track:
- I resolve to stay calm. Teaching is an unpredictable job, and working with kids can be emotionally taxing. I want to rededicate myself to the art of patience. Many difficult situations that occur in a classroom can be stabilized if a teacher can stay calm. Instead of showing my frustration, I plan to take a deep breath, give myself a second to think, and remain calm. I think that when a teacher acts calmly, he or she sets the tone in the classroom and creates a sense of safety. This isn’t always easy, but it’s a worthwhile goal that I believe will have a positive impact on myself and my students. This article has some great tips for helping teachers stay sane.
- I resolve to keep a clean desk. I find myself almost embarrassingly explaining to colleagues, “Well, I’m organized in my head!” I know a clean desk doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story about a person, but for me, my desk says that I need to take 20 or 30 minutes to clean up. If I were more tidy, I’d feel better, my work area would look more presentable, and I wouldn’t need to dig around for things. So even though a clean desk isn’t the most important thing to tackle in a classroom, I do think a cleaner, more organized desk will send a message to my students that I do care about my teaching space.
- I resolve to keep a running list of things to do and remember. A typical school day is busy—I’m moving from class to class all day long and I tend to forget things. I forget which students are waiting for a book, which students I need to visit with, and which tasks have come to my attention during the day. So in 2018, I want to jot these “to-dos” down in a notebook so I can remember to tackle them as time permits. Keeping a list will help me stay focused and organized, and will also help me keep promises to students. If I tell students I will find a piece of information for them, I want to remember to do it. My “to-do” notebook will be my strategy for staying on top of things.
- I resolve to focus on the positive attributes of students. As a school year progresses, a teacher’s August optimism dims. It is easy to get discouraged by students’ lack of progress or difficult behaviors. In the new year, I want to remember the inherent value of each and every student. It’s easy to get down about students, but it’s much more productive to stay positive. Instead of letting myself get hung up on the fact that Johnny can’t sit still, I will remember that he is the first kid to offer help to a friend. I will remember that Sadie always hugs me and is sweet and kind. This doesn’t mean I won’t try to solve classroom problems and fix problematic behaviors, but it does mean that I will remember that students are worth more than the mistakes they make.
- I resolve to remember that what I do is important. In 2018, I will not take my career as a teacher for granted. I will remember—each and every day—that I can have a positive impact on my students. Maybe I am able to help students become lifelong readers and learners. Maybe I give that kid who needs it an extra hug every day. Or maybe I simply show students that I believe in them and care. I will remember that the capacity for making a positive ripple in the world is at my fingertips every hour of every day. This is a powerful idea—that what I do matters to my students and to the world. So I resolve to remember the importance of teaching on good days, hard days, and even dull days. What I do makes a difference, and I need to remember to celebrate that fact!
- I resolve to be gentle with myself when I break these resolutions. Finally, I must be easy on myself when the new semester drags on and I falter. Not one of us is perfect, and even with the best of intentions, I will have my rough days. I may be gruff with a kid, or I may get frustrated with a behavior. I may lose my patience, have a lesson flop, or just be extra tired and grumpy. But when I fall short, I need to remember that I am a human, I am worthy, and I will do better tomorrow. I want to give both my students and myself room to make mistakes and know that tomorrow is a new day.
Here’s to the joys, successes, and challenges that 2018 will bring. May we hold the job of teaching—as well as our students—close to our hearts and be the best teachers we can be. And may we forgive ourselves when we fall short. Happy New Year!
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