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Uncategorized   |   Dec 27, 2009

Not waiting for a new (school) year resolutions

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Not waiting for a new (school) year resolutions

By Angela Watson

Back, by popular demand: it’s teacher resolution time once again! This is a topic that’s close to my heart because I hate to see teachers stuck in a pattern or routine that isn’t working simply because they think it’s too late in the year. See if you’ve noticed yourself uttering any of the following statements:

“I am SO not letting my kids do that next year.”
“Next year, I’m going to approach this in a totally different way.”
“I wish I could just re-do this whole thing and start over.”
“Oh well, next year.”

I hear teachers make these comments all the time. Unfortunately, they all reference next year on the school calendar. And August is a loooooong way away.

Here’s one of my biggest mottos: It’s NEVER too late to change something that’s not working. You don’t have to wait for an entirely new group of kids. You can–and should–modify your procedures, expectations, and teaching strategies any time they are not effective, at ANY time during the school year.

Don’t worry that making changes to the way you run your classroom will confuse the kids or cause them to question your authority and expertise. The key is to articulate to students what’s not working and how you plan to fix it. Tell the class your observations about the problem and share your solution.

For example, you could say, “I’ve noticed that many people are copying their homework assignments incorrectly. I want to change the way the assignments are displayed and copied in order to help you. From now on, the list of assignments will be on this poster, instead of on the transparency, so even if you come late to class, you can see what needs to be done. I will also be giving you five minutes instead of three to write everything down and have a partner check over what you wrote. Here’s how that’s going to work.” Then model exactly what you want, and guide the kids through it.

Other changes to your teaching practice may be more subtle. You may have noticed a dampening of your enthusiasm or patience, or a heavier reliance on test prep practice and teaching materials/strategies that you know are weak. Maybe you need to stand up to–or acquiesce–an administrator or parent who has been making your life difficult all year long. You might be desperate to change the way you structure your time or prioritize your tasks and goals.

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New years glasses were a dubiously clever idea for the past decade. Some ideas can be reworked and modified. In this instance, I think the photos prove that sometimes? It’s better to LET IT GO.

So in light of all this, I present the “Not Waiting for a New (School) Year” resolution. What do you want to change NOW in your teaching practice? What thing is so important that you can’t afford to write off this year’s kids and wait for a fresh start in the fall? What’s really pressing for you?

Is there something you want to change in the way you manage your classroom? A different teaching philosophy you want to embrace? A deeply held truth that you’ve lost sight of and want to focus on once again? Or even something small and simple that you know will make a big difference in how you (or your students) feel at the end of the day?

Leave your NWFANSY resolution(s) as a comment on this post no later than January 4. I’ll include your resolution along with a link to your blog/website in an upcoming post. You don’t have to have a plan for how you’re going to accomplish your resolution, and it doesn’t have to be profound. Just honest.

You can check out teachers’ resolutions from last year here. If you submitted your resolution at the end of 2008, take a look what you wrote and let us know in the comments how you did!

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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Discussion


  1. I love this post… part of good teaching is reflection, which is really one of the reasons I started my blog in the first case. 🙂

    My resolution is to be a little more organized. I'm finding the chaos of kindergarten making it hard to stay focused and organized.

  2. I posted last year and said I wanted to focus more on individualized learning. I can thankfully say we are doing that. It is time consuming but I have seen better progress. This year, I want to focus on training my para pros better. I rely on them a lot and expect alot however, I have come to realize they can't read my mind… duh! To make the function of the learning lab, and my students I need to focus on the the staff.

  3. My resolution is to find a way to motivate my 7th adn 8th grade Math Classes. I want to add to the drab lessons and find other activities that will keep them loving Math.

  4. We just changed the way we usually do the reading homework. Previously it was a reading comprehension worksheet each week. Starting Jan 2010 we are giving our 4th graders a monthly book study. There are 3 parts – they have to write a report (using a given format) on the book they chose, write 8 questions for the author, and deisgn an alternative book cover. We are thinking of tying it in to a presentation where each student can speak about the book they read. It is a little 'new' and the students need support in choosing an appropriate book…but they seem excited. Also, no more weekly reading homework to check! 😉

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