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Uncategorized   |   Dec 27, 2008

"Not waiting for a new year" resolution

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

"Not waiting for a new year" resolution

By Angela Watson


“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.

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.

And 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.

So in light of this, I present the “Not Waiting for a New 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 NWFANY resolution(s) as a comment on this post no later than January 1. 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.

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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  1. It’s so great that you posted this because I was just thinking about it the other day. I tend to wait until the next school year to change things. But I was thinking that I could just change it now because there is still plenty of this school year left. I want to change my behavior management plan. I was thinking of doing the bead system. My students are pretty well behaved with the system I have now, but there a few that need something different. And if I can get them to behave on a more regular basis, my classroom would be much more productive. I already have Fun Fridays for those that complete homework, so I am going to add behavior to it too using the bead system. You’re right about confusing the kids. If you show and model, kids can pretty much pick up any new procedure.

  2. Last week, I started rearranging my entire classroom space. I moved all the tables, the rug space, utilized some furniture in different ways, rearranged the library a bit, found a home for the listening center…and on and on. There are MAJOR changes coming after break. Job charts, centers, rubrics, blahblahblah.

    You’d think I would want to spend some of break taking a BREAK. But I’m convinced that it will all be worth it.

    Also, I think one thing that I want to change, personally, is the attitude that I take on when faced with something difficult in my class. I try to cover it up, but I know that they sense frustration from me. Must remember to SMILE more and be like a duck more (let things roll off my back like water off a duck’s feathers).

  3. I’ve always treated the 2nd half of the school year as a “new year.” We always make changes, in our routines, our lessons, everything. I always explain to my babies that it’s because they are so much more grown up now than when kdg. started, and they are almost 1st graders, so I know they can handle it! 😉

    *Weird word verification word – allin
    As in, I’m “all in” with your plan! 🙂

  4. I want to find a way to make sure my students are reading more… probably by setting up a more solid buddy reading system and working extra hard to make sure my students are reading books on their correct reading levels.

    I also want to find a way to enjoy myself a bit more than I did for the first part of the school year. Hopefully my patience will be recharged and ready to work full force on the 5th of January.


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