I’m a sucker for new beginnings—the chance to be a better me at home and at work. I love the sense of starting over, improving, and making changes that a new year offers. Each January, I try to write out personal and professional goals, usually things like “be more organized” or “keep my desk clean.” (If you saw my desk, you’d see why this is a yearly goal!)
The professional goals I want to make this year are more resolutions of the heart, in how I engage with the students I teach and how I approach my vocation. Here are my new beginnings for 2019—I hope they also help you as you begin your new year of teaching!
- I will be kind with my students. I want to speak kindly to my students and treat them with respect, even when I’m dealing with misbehavior. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences delivered, as holding kids accountable is a kindness. However, I want to be mindful of the words I use with my students—words of kindness and patience, not words that harm or humiliate.
- I will build rapport with students, staff, and parents. I am a better teacher when I create positive relationships with the people I work with. If I show students, staff, and parents that I care about them as well as what I do, then these people will be more willing to work with me. I want to know my students and their interests. I want to be able to work with and help out my co-workers. And I want to have positive relationships with my parents so that they feel like they can talk to me or come to me with concerns. I also resolve to build constructive relationships with the students and adults I work with.
- I will be kind with myself. Teaching is often trial and error, and I promise not to beat myself up when a lesson goes awry or when I don’t have my usual energy or enthusiasm. I will try to continue to learn and grow, and I will give myself grace when I make a mistake. I will ask for help when I am discouraged, and I will celebrate when I have a teaching victory. In education terms, I will use “growth mindset” in that I will remind myself that failures lead to growth and success.
- I will be a lifelong learner. I don’t want to become one of those teachers who parents whisper about, saying things like, “She should just retire already.” I want to continue to learn—about my content areas, other content areas, educational trends, and new teaching strategies. I want to keep my teaching fresh, and I want to show students the importance and fun of continued learning. This may be the greatest gift I can offer my students: the joy and importance of being a lifelong learner.
- I will maintain my enthusiasm for what I teach. As teachers, we sometimes get stuck in a rut. We feel like we’re going through the motions, doing the same lesson over and over and over again. (For me, this usually hits around March.) I resolve to stay positive and excited about my content area. I will do this by talking to other teachers, finding interesting professional development opportunities, and remembering to recharge my own batteries when I feel stuck. I will also gently remind myself that this “stuck in a rut” feeling happens yearly, and I will ask friends to help guide me through this.
- Finally, I will be present for others. This means that even if I need my valuable planning time to work on a lesson, I will stop and listen to a student or co-worker in need. When I was a new teacher, I got stressed out when people would come in. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “I need this time to work!” I now know that being there for others is part of the job—an important part. So in 2019, I will remind myself to stop and listen, even if I’m busy. It’s the best gift I can give a student or co-worker.
Teacher friends: 2019 offers you an opportunity for change. You can try new things, build bridges with students and co-workers, and learn something new. I wish you a happy, healthy new year, and hope that you can come up with your own teaching goals that will enliven and enrich your classroom. Here’s to new beginnings!
Are you planning to try something new for 2019? Let us know in the comments below. And for more insightful teaching tips all year long, don’t forget to subscribe to the Educator blog!