A new year means resolutions, right? I have to admit that January 1st might be the official start to the new year, but I’ve been on academic years since I was in kindergarten, so it feels like a this is just the halfway point of my year.
But with a nice big break in the action of the school year, it does give me pause to think about ways I could change it up for the rest of the year. To look back at what is working well, and what I could be doing differently.
My teaching assignment this year has forced me to rethink and restructure my time management routines. For the past nine years, I have used my planning period to plan and grade papers, and after school time to do copies, file, set up for the next day, and be available for students after school.
This year, my planning period is piggybacked by my lunch period and travel time for me to get to the junior high to teach two hours there. On top of that, I share my classroom during my planning period and my room is used for the two hours that I am at the junior high. So having my time split between the building with little to zero “alone” time to work this year has really thrown a monkey wrench in the way I am used to doing things, and it’s caused me to take home more work than I am used to.
One of my resolutions is to figure out a way to maximize my at school time so I don’t find myself lugging work home. It’s stressful to me and my family.
Sharing classrooms also means it’s harder for me to make phone calls to parents. Starting with this new semester, I am going to attempt to find “phone time” minimum of once a week to return calls and reach out to parents of struggling students. While about 50% of parents provide me with and email address, email can be effective only if parents check it and respond.
I also resolve to be more active in attending after school events like basketball games, theater productions, band and choir concerts, etc. It’s important for my students to see their teachers show up for them.
I also want to do random acts of kindness for staff and students (and their families) when I can because I know that the days are sometimes long, and it can be much easier to see the criticism and the difficulties. Sometimes you need some joy pointed out or a kind word spoken.
Of course there are things I want to do more in my actual classes as well:
I want to incorporate more active reading and more thoughtful writing assignments.
I want my students to look at each other’s work more often and learn to read it critically.
I want to make active reading skills second nature to my students…so they do it without having to use a checklist.
I want my students to ask questions. A lot.
And I want to make sure not one minute of class time is wasted. That is not to say we don’t have fun, but that everything is a learning moment — even if what they are learning isn’t past tense Spanish verb conjugations or how symbolism is used in The Great Gatsby. They could be learning to organize their thoughts or work with someone new. Maybe they learn not to take themselves so seriously…or they realize they can take themselves seriously, that not everything is a joke.
The past two weeks have been great for introspection and re-evaluating. When I go back tomorrow, I will go with a rested heart and mind…ready to welcome back the 153 students who will hopefully also be ready for a fresh start.