Teacher HACKS: Fast Teaching Tips and Strategies
49 New Year's Resolutions That Remind You Why You Teach
Another year, another set of resolutions. We’ve all been there—we look forward to the new year and make resolutions in hopes that we throw away bad habits and adopt more meaningful ones. Somewhere along the way, we begin taking shortcuts and, in turn, begin cutting ourselves short of our own expectations. It’s no surprise, then, that only about 8% of people who make resolutions actually keep them!
Our community of teachers, however, needs to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Our resolutions not only impact us as individuals, but also each individual we reach through our daily achievements. We need to strive for excellence to set examples for our students, our colleagues, our family, and our friends.
What role does accountability play into your resolutions?
There are many reasons as to why people often deviate from their original resolutions, of which lack of time and lack of commitment are most commonplace. Goals are sometimes too ambitious and intangible, and the non-immediate benefits often discourage continued progress. The lack of accountability to others also plays a role, as you are more likely to sabotage your own goals when you don’t feel a sense of responsibility to others.
As teachers, our very own passion and profession holds us accountable for the lives of hundreds of students across thousands of current and future generations. Larry Ferlazzo compiled a great list of resources that touch upon how to best keep your resolutions. He also suggests ways in which you can even lesson plan around these new goals, allowing you to incorporate these very same learnings into the classroom.
Teachers—let’s start the 2014 year off right, and let’s continue motivating our students and our fellow teachers throughout the entire year (even in the summer months!). We know it’s important to be mindful of both personal and professional goals, so our team searched the Web for teachers who are committed to these same resolutions, and we’ve collected our favorites to share with you all.
*DRUM ROLL* Here are 49 of our favorite resolutions that make you proud to be a teacher
1. Make sure to teach critical non-cognitive/21st century skills like ingenuity, collaboration, and perseverance. – Justin Minkel
2. Encourage more men to go into teaching.
4. Laugh a lot with my students.
Though standardized testing remains the “objective” norm to measure both student achievement as well as teacher competency, Mr. Minkel touches upon the fact that intangible skills–creativity, compassion, thinking through complex problems–are just as important, and the teaching of these ideas are among his 2014 resolutions.
5. I will consistently try new approaches to learning. – Jennifer Rita Nichols
6. I will experiment with technology that scares me.
7. I will teach through moments.
Experimenting with new teaching methods–let alone experimenting with anything new at all–scares most people. 2014 should be the year we quell these fears and try things we haven’t tried before. Although teachers may find it difficult to deviate from the norm, we need to understand that not all students learn alike. At the end of the day, both students who learn in a “typical” manner and those who learn better through other means are the ultimate beneficiaries of these differentiated teaching and learning methods.
8. Go green! Reduce energy consumption in the classroom. – Jack Smith
With tight budgets all around, Mr. Smith aims to curb energy costs in his school with very practical and reasonable adjustments to everyday power usages. Did you know that, in the U.S. alone, we waste $2.8 billion annually due to improper computer power settings? In 2014, he hopes to implement more simple solutions to eliminate energy waste, while teaching others how to do the same.
9. Have a CAN-DO attitude. – Deborah Stewart and Courtney Floyd
It’s not a surprise that, as teachers, we constantly find ourselves in stressful environments with little-to-no resources to enable our students. Instead of focusing on setbacks, look for alternative solutions to everyday problems. This is a resolution that can apply to all aspects of teaching and life–not to mention a resolution that should be kept all year long.
10. In my classroom, I want to really focus in on my writing instruction over the second half of the year by using formative assessment, anecdotal notes from conferences, and exit slips to constantly evaluating what I should teach next. – Kasey Kiehl
Ms. Kiehl understands that not all students learn the same, and she is tackling that fact head-on. We commend her for her approach and wish her luck as she finds different ways to reach each individual writer in her classroom.
11. Think systematically about teaching and learn from experience. – David B. Cohen
12. Take more responsibility for managing and monitoring student learning. Try to separate feedback from grading a bit more this year. Explore ways to grade less and respond more. Consider a move away from points and averages toward other grading methods to get you and your students more focused on learning and less on grading.
If you are not doing so already, 2014 should be the year you begin to analyze your activities and routines in a more opportunistic manner. Ask yourself how you can enrich your students’ weekly assignments with fun, new factoids. Don’t be afraid of learning something new along the way for yourself.
13. Share and share alike. – Jessie Hartle Lumpkins
Ms. Hartle Lumpkins speaks to the inconvenient truth about the “culture of sharing” (or lack thereof) among some teacher circles. This is a mold that needs to break, and, among her many other notable resolutions, she embraces the challenge to bring success to all students through knowledge share.
14. Become a connected educator. Tweet more often. Share what you learn with the world–that is, blog! – Isaac Pineda
Mr. Pineda’s resolutions reflect the sentiments of many teachers in today’s “connected” learning environment. With the rapid development of learning technologies and the limitless possibilities proffered with high-speed Internet connections, teachers are able to leverage resources in an unprecedented manner. Whether sharing opinions with other teachers on live Twitter discussions or exploring outer space on a website with your students, connectedness completely enhances the manner in which both students and teachers learn.
15. I am committing to sharing photos, tips and ideas every single weekday throughout 2014 that will benefit classroom teachers of all grade levels. – Jodi, Clutter-Free Classroom
16. Survey my students. – Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell
Use surveys as an opportunity for honest feedback. Not only will the answers help inform how you teach, you can also gain insight into how you can teach better (from the students themselves!). Sure, the occasional rude or critical remark will appear once in a while, but the positive and enlightening comments will be worthwhile.
17. Collaborate with another teacher on a project.
18. Statistically, I’m old enough (65) to know myself well enough that if I make resolutions, I won’t keep them… so my New Year’s resolution is not to make any. – Mark Perry
A little comedic cynicism never hurt anyone.
19. Write the book I’ve always wanted to write. I think now more than anytime before teachers have the tools to start publishing independently. That’s why I’ll be crowdsourcing funds to start creating the first in a series of teacher development books on the use of technology in teaching. – Nik Peachey
We wish you luck in your pursuit! You can support Mr. Peachey’s efforts here.
20. Explore the Next Generation Science Standards and do some purging of files! – Cynthia Feeney
21. Enjoy the precious time I am given with my children and to thank God daily for the gift of them!
22. Finish a quilt I started YEARS ago!
23. Patience, patience, patience: Continue to remember that students are going through all types of things at home and outside of school. Instead of becoming easily agitated, try to find the root of the problem instead of just getting on the child. – Daina Roberts
24. Focus on the positive: It’s always easier to resort to the negative side of things, but when it comes to children and teaching, it makes for a much happier and rewarding day to focus on the positive. Instead of saying, “Don’t do this, don’t do that…” say “I love how ___ is sitting on the carpet” or “___ is doing such a great job of reading silently”. This way, the kids are being focused towards correct examples instead of everyone looking toward a wrong example.
Ms. Roberts’ alludes to the undeniable fact that students have a life outside of the classroom as well. As teachers, we don’t have all the answers as to why some students are the way they are, and for that very reason, her goals are oriented toward problem-solving through patience and understanding. Her resolutions hone in on reinforcing positive behaviors instead of turning attention toward negative ones.
25. I hope to be making Arabic language plants for some schools in Dubai this year, so I’m learning Arabic, mostly by myself, with a grammar book. – David Warr
26. My resolution for 2014 is to work just as hard but do a much better job of taking and enjoying time off. – Michael Smith
27. Step out of my comfort zone more often. – Addie Williams
28. I want to be more mindful of others – it’s so easy to get caught up in my own “stuff” that I forget to put it into perspective.
29. Believe in my ability to teach and teach well. – Shannon Clark
30. Apply at least one [learning] from my master’s program every month. – Carina Hilbert
31. Get my grading turn-around time down.
32. Do a better job of navigating the social side of teaching.
33. Find a way to better implement blended learning in a school without enough devices.
34. Knit more. Exercise more. Clean more. Crash less.
35. Even though I now teach in college, read aloud remains relevant and engaging to my 20 somethings. I resolve to read to them at each class. – Russ Walsh
Though it may seem less traditional for a teacher to read aloud to 20-some-year-olds, we cannot deny the impact verbal interpretations of literature has on students. When someone else reads to you the same passages you have read to yourself. you can gain a different perspective based on the reader’s tone of voice, annunciations, and variations of pauses between words and sentences.
36. Realize that all children can learn, but not always at the same pace. – Lisa Mims
37. Treat all students fairly, regardless of race, gender, age, behavior, a parent’s nasty attitude, the comments from last year’s teachers, or seemingly lack of interest in learning.
38. Stop using sarcasm as a disciplinary tool, no matter how effective it may seem.
39. Speak in a quiet, even, tone, even when yelling seems to be the only option. (It never is!)
40. Grade papers in a timely manner, and use their grades to guide instruction.
41-45. Tina Byland of ACSD reached out to emerging leaders within her organization to get their thoughts on educational resolutions. You can read them all here. Our favorite five are below.
41. My resolution is to stay “unfinished”. In education we continue to do, and do, and do, and sometimes do not take the time and energy to ensure that we are constantly growing as a person, a professional, and a leader in our profession. This next year, and throughout the rest of my life, I will work diligently to serve myself and my own personal professional growth so that I can better serve the needs to my colleagues and my students. – PJ Caposey
42. My 2014 resolution is to develop critical thinking in my students and help them own their learning. – Vanessa Monell
43. To build a stronger network of connected educators in my building/district while looking to create avenues for my students to make global connections in their work. – Rebecca Kelly
44. With the help of friends in education, my 2014 education enw year’s resolution is to design experiential classroom activities that explicitly integrate social-emotional learning standards with content standards. – Krista Rundell
45. To help further create a shared vision of what real technology integration looks like. To see technology’s place in teaching and learning as more than an event. This means a constant, supportive learning environment is needed for administrators, teachers, and students. – Kyle Pace
46. Only wear shoes when you absolutely have to. Science teachers need to wear them during lab, but unless it’s snowing and a bunch below zero, my toes are collecting photos. It also cuts way down on foot issues, and if you teach, your dawgs matter as much as your voice. – Doyle
47. Chase what gives you joy for hours a day. For me what means strumming a stringed instrument (hardly matters which) singing, and gardening. For you, it might be skating, baking, or playing hop scotch.
48. Take an online class. I was thinking of learning a programming language. Nearly forty years ago, I was programming in APL. I used it to create a monthly analysis of the company’s performance. A programming class might enhance my skills as a teacher. – KrantCents
49. Focus on helping teachers make an intentional shift to personalized learning. – Jill Thompson
Personalized education places each and every student as the focal point. Mrs. Thompson hopes to enable other educators make this shift in their lesson planning and classroom instruction. Though technology is a vital component in this goal, she believes the devices currently in use are just the tip of the iceberg for delivering instruction.
There you have it. Whether or not you created personal resolutions for yourself at the beginning of the year, we hope the ones you find on this page resonates with your teachings and your learnings for all of 2014 and more. We’d also love to hear from YOU on any of your resolutions, so please send us an email to editorial [at] education.cu-portland.edu and get a chance for an addition to our page!< show all "Teaching Strategies" articles