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As the year comes to a close and we all take a break from school for a few weeks, we begin looking to the New Year and all it has to offer. As we look forward, we make grand plans about changes we’ll make, things we’ll improve upon, and how to let go of any negative experiences from the previous year. Although a new calendar year is upon us, the school year is only half over. Though the holidays are a time to slow down, relax, and unwind, they’re also a great time to reflect and analyze the past year. When we look at what we’ve done well and what we haven’t, we can make the appropriate changes as we enter the New Year with gusto and a resolve to have more success in many areas of our lives.
Teachers often prompt their students to write about or consider New Year’s resolutions. And it’s easy for us educators to name off a few typical resolutions when our students ask us about our goals for the upcoming year—eat healthier, exercise more, stress less, and the like. But rather than place the assignment on your students and go with some standard resolutions for yourself, take a look at our list of New Year’s resolutions that we believe every educator should commit to for the upcoming year.
Be More Organized
You probably started the school year with a number of mind-blowing, Pinterest-worthy organization systems in your classroom. It’s likely that a few of them have fallen by the wayside as the craziness of the school year set in. As the second half of the school year begins and ushers with it a new calendar year, aim to be more organized in every area of your life. Get back those organizational systems in your classroom, stick to your grading schedule and lesson plans, keep your classroom free of clutter, and organize your desk and file cabinet. Bring that organization back home with you too—clean out your car and commit to keeping it clean, go through ignored closets and rooms to get rid of some unnecessary things at home, and do your best to utilize organizational techniques each and every day to keep things orderly and in place.
Connect with Students More
It won’t be long before your students are out of your classroom and onto the next grade level. Try to make the most of your time with them and do your best to better connect with your students during the second half of the year. The past few months have been spent getting to know them, setting standards, and upholding expectations. But now that your students know who you are as a teacher and what you expect of them, try to really get to know them on a personal level. Learn what makes them tick, what gets them excited, and what subjects interest them. Make sure they know that you are there for them, both this year and in the future, and do whatever you can to help them be prepared for the next grade level, both academically and personally.
Communicate with Parents More
There’s nothing worse for a parent than to hear that their child is doing poorly at the end of the year after not having heard from the teacher all year. Reach out to your students’ parents whether they’re doing well or not, and let them know that the lines of communication are always open and that you are here to help them and your students during the remainder of the school year. Consider a classroom newsletter, a weekly parent email, or monthly phone calls to keep your parents in the loop and involved in your students’ learning.
Embrace the joy and happiness around the holidays and let it glide you gleefully into January. Try to be realistic about your expectations, but keep your attitude and thoughts as positive as possible. Optimism can make or break a person, an experience, a class, and more. Some of your students may have difficult home lives, and you may be the only joy they experience. Additionally, if you’re more positive in the classroom, your students are likely to follow suit. However, the same goes for negativity too. Believe in your students and be as optimistic as you can about everything you face this upcoming year, both in and out of the classroom.
Add Movement to Lessons
This one may require some out-of-the-box thinking, but it’s sure to bring great benefits to your class and yourself. We all know that exercise is important, but we also know that finding the time to stay active can be challenging for just about everyone. Adding movement to some of your lessons, no matter how simple, will keep your students more engaged and has some added health benefits. It can be as simple as walking around the room to complete a scavenger hunt or as intense as a foot race or obstacle course outside. Get creative and think of fun and engaging ways to get your students moving during normal lessons.
Classrooms are becoming more and more technological every year, and teachers have to be able to keep up. Take a class to learn how to use new technology, or ask your school about implementing some new tech within the classroom to further engage students and make teaching easier. A fully-integrated classroom is inevitable in the near future, and the sooner you start embracing technology and utilizing it, the better off both you and your students will be.
Set New Personal Goals
It’s important to remember that you are a person outside of your vocation. If your entire resolution list is all related to your job, you may need to be a little introspective and rework some of your priorities. Yes, it’s great to be committed to your job and your students, but you also need to have some personal goals and non-school related things going on in your life as well. Maybe you want to complete your first 5K this year or you want to finish redecorating a room in your house. Maybe you want to plan a once in a lifetime vacation for your family or you want to attend a specific event. Set goals to help you work towards those things—whether that be saving more money, exercising more, or learning new skills. Set some personal goals, write them down, and then take steps to achieve them.
Take Steps toward Professional Advancement
Educators truly never stop learning, and the upcoming year may offer some exciting opportunities for you in terms of professional advancement. Maybe you are hoping to be promoted to assistant principal, maybe you hope to take over leading an organization at school, or maybe you want to earn an additional degree or specialist add-on. Figure out what you want out of your current position or what you want to work towards next in your career, and begin working towards accomplishing those goals.