Happy New Year! I can’t even believe it—where has half the school year gone? Hopefully, you have just enjoyed a restful holiday and are gearing up for the second semester. Resolutions seem to be a thing of the past these days, and focusing on a single word is now the way to go. It’s less pressure, but still gives you something to work toward.
What better word to focus on for the new year than the word “new” itself? Webster defines new as: not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time.
Here are a few ways to adopt some newness into your life in 2020:
New Routine: We all know our students thrive with routines and efficient ones can save a lot of valuable time, but maybe there are some routines that aren’t working for you (i.e., how your students sharpen their pencils or turn in homework). Perhaps you need to figure out a new routine for your practices as well. If you’re still bringing home bags of papers to grade, you may need to rethink things. Don’t feel like you need to grade all of your students’ work—you could grade only portions of the assignment or just give a completion grade. Using rubrics or peer grading can also help. And just for kicks, drive a different way to school or change another morning routine like drinking your coffee before you get to work instead of after. Changing a simple routine allows your brain to work differently and can aid with problem solving and creativity!
New Adventure: Find something you've always wanted to try and just do it (thank you, Nike)! Honestly, life is short and self-care is real. It’s the middle of the school year and the middle of winter, but it’s also the start of a new year. I’m a busy teacher and a busy mom, so I totally understand how sometimes we don’t feel like we have any time for ourselves. Last year, I joined an online writing class and was able to work from the comforts of my home. It was a wonderful experience—I learned a lot and met some amazing new friends. Making time for yourself and pursuing a new interest can ignite a passion that will leave you feeling happier and more self-confident. And of course, all this happiness will trickle down to those lovely students sitting in your classroom right now.
New Learning: We’re in the business of learning, so how can we expect our students to become lifelong learners if we don’t model that behavior ourselves? Whether you‘ve been teaching for four years or 24, there is always room for improvement. The only constant in education is change. Education is a science, and with any science comes observations, investigations, and experimentations. While there are some concepts and teaching strategies that have stood the test of time, there will always be some type of evolution. For example, forming relationships with my students has been important ever since I started in education, but I have since learned so much about being trauma sensitive, de-escalating a situation, and building resilience. We can’t be afraid to admit when we don’t know something, and we need to be willing to learn—after all, we expect our students to do the same. Having this growth mindset allows you (and your students) to become more successful. So, roll up your sleeves and let the learning begin!
New Attitude: There, I said it—some of us just need an attitude adjustment. You’ve been with the same complaining coworker for years, you have the super teacher next door who always makes you look bad, you have the most difficult student (or class!) you’ve ever had, you haven’t received a raise in years, you have so many complaining parents, you are constantly having to implement new district initiatives, and the list goes on. I get it, and I know I have said or thought these very things. But all that negative energy can get inside me and just weigh me down. It makes for a very long, excruciating year when you let pessimism take over. I’ve learned that I can either try to do something about it or let it go. I try to change the things I can and practice gratitude and kindness. It’s amazing what a little kindness will do! If I can’t tell the super teacher she’s making me look bad, I can suggest us teaming up to work on a classroom project together. If I can’t convince the board to give me a raise, I can cut back on my spending to save money. Creating a positive attitude is a state of mind. You need to be deliberate and calculated, but once you get started, it gets easier!
Happy New Year, my amazing teacher friends! I hope this year brings you new routines, new adventures, new learning, and a new positive attitude. With a little newness in the air, let’s go live our best teacher lives.
What are you focusing on in 2020? Let us know in the comments below. To stay up to date on the latest teaching tips and trends throughout the year, be sure to subscribe to the Educator blog!