“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.
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