Rejuvenate Your Teaching with a New Year Commitment
written by Bill Reed
Many people make New Year’s Resolutions each year. They usually do not last due to the goals being unreasonable or way too ambitious. I was reading ways to keep resolutions and found this article. 10 Secrets of People Who Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions. As I read the article, I realized that the 10 ways the author listed were a perfect blueprint for teachers.
The 10 ways the article listed are:
1.Start with specific micro-goals
It is important for teachers to start small. Saying you will make vast sweeping changes rarely, if ever work. There are so many reasons and deterrents that keep us from making major changes. Start with a small and manageable goal. Something like: “Once a week I will make sure students discuss the math topic they are learning with others in the class.” or “I will include one or more multiple choice questions on every quiz and test to help prepare students for future standardized assessments they will be taking.” or “I will have at least one Authentic Performance Task in every unit taught.” or “I will ask at least DOK 2 and DOK 3 level questions that have multiple correct answers and can be solved in multiple ways each week.” The goals must be specific and something that is doable for you in your classes.
2. Set resolutions for the right reasons
Your goals must be things that you are willing to do to help improve your instruction for your students. As teachers, we always want to improve and do better. Looking at our instruction and finding ways we can improve is a natural progression for teachers. The additional perks of these small goals are that they can be used as our goals that we set for our evaluations. It is a win-win for teachers.
3. Document your progress
Always keep track of your progress. Documentation is the best way to answer the what, where, why, and when questions. This will help with your evaluations when you can provide all the information quickly and easily from what you have recorded. Having what, where, why, and when question’s answers written down go a long way to make all that you do much easier.
4. Practice patience and forgiveness
Please know that whatever you choose for your goals will not work perfectly the first time you try it. Students (and teachers too if we are being honest) are not good with change. When you try something different you will have to be firm with your commitment knowing it will take a few tries before your students are in the routine and onboard with the changes you have made. Be willing to know you are not perfect and may have to tweak what you are doing to best fit your students and your personality.
5. Schedule in time to achieve goals
Make sure you know that there will be a little more time involved with accomplishing your goal. Some may be preparation time, some may be class-time, some may be extra time to evaluate your progress and success. Be committed know a few things about the extra time. First, it will be worth it for the improvement from your students. It will be less time as your goal becomes routine and students are onboard with what you are doing. Finally, the positives far outweigh any negatives including the extra time that may be required to accomplish what you have set out to do!
6. Embrace the buddy system
If you go out on an island you are setting yourself up for failure. Bring someone alone with you. Someone who will support and challenge you. Someone who has the same outlook and same overall goals as you do. This is not only good for your goals but overall good for your mental health and success. When I started out as a new teacher, I was so swamped that I regularly ate lunch by myself in my classroom. That was a BIG mistake! It could not have been more detrimental to my improvement and success. Luckily, I had some very wise and experienced teachers tell me to STOP and join my colleagues for lunch and time after school. That made all the difference for me. When I mentor new teachers, this is a nugget of wisdom I always pass on for their own good. Another teacher who is there for you to bounce ideas off and give ideas and suggestions will do more to help you accomplish your goals than any other support.
7. Consider your budget
Luckily this is not a major consideration. I will tell you that if you are doing everything discussed above you will be amazed how easy it is to get the funding you need for resources or to attend a conference or professional development to help you accomplish your goals.
8. Slow down and meditate
This is very similar to number three above. Take some time for self-reflections on how you think things are going. This is also where number six above comes in. Discussing what you have been doing and how things are going with a trusted colleague is vital for you and your success for reaching your goal.
9. Reward yourself for achievements
Don’t forget to celebrate your success no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Teachers can easily get caught up in all the negative and forget to recognize and celebrate the positives and the successes you have had.
10. Ask others to keep you accountable
This can be your colleague you work with, an administrator, or even your students. Many times, I had my students hold me accountable for things we were doing in class. Once, I had a goal of making sure I was using all three modalities in my teaching and giving instructions. I had my students hold me accountable if I did not give the assignment in all three modalities, they did not have to do it. They loved that idea. Luckily, I only forgot once or twice all year and at least once it might have been on purpose. I always said the assignment and the instructions, I wrote them on the board, and I made students copy them into their assignment notebooks that I check that they had it written down for them to leave the classroom. That simple goal made a huge difference in the success of my students that year. I continue that practice until I retired from the classroom. Now, I must put everything I do in my calendar, so I do not forget anything that needs to be done.
I think most people will agree the 10 steps you must take to be successful with your goals will make a significant difference in your success. I hope these simple steps can help you accomplish your goals. Now it is up to you. You must decide what New Year Commitment to improving your instruction and the success of your students you want to try for 2023! Remember you are not in this alone. Your colleagues, your administrator(s), your students and yes even me are all in this, with you, helping you succeed. This is where you can gleam resources, suggestions, and support to help you get started and continue down the path of making your instruction better and better.
If you decide to try something new this new year, drop me an email at [email protected] and I will help you with materials, resources, ideas, and suggestions. You will be helping me out as I always need ideas and suggestions for my newsletter materials and resources and possible blog topics.
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