I love the feeling of all the possibilities that can occur in a new year. The idea of fresh starts and big dreams fills me with excitement every January. Here are 5 New Year’s resolutions for teachers that will reinvigorate you as well!
5. Be More Fun
When you are deep into the school year and looking at test scores it can be hard to feel you have the space to incorporate more fun. However, there have been many studies that show students actually learn better when you can.
If we think of our own school experiences, the ones that we remember the most were engaging and fun. According to Growth Engineering, fun improves motivation and curiosity. Even with rigid curriculums and standards to follow we can inject a little fun in our day.
How about splitting the class into teams and having them earn points for asking or answering questions? Another way to inject fun is to allow partner or group work. This is a super simple way to get students working that my second graders always loved. I often released students for independent practice by saying they could pick a partner to do the work.
Even with simple worksheets my students loved the chance to work with a friend. Of course I set an expectation first that if they were not working on the assignment the next time they would not have a partner. Then I made sure to follow through if I saw students not putting in the work.
4. Create Organizational Systems
Just like our personal New Year’s resolutions, our classroom deserves some organization. When we create systems for how we will address the items coming into or leaving our class, we tend to have less clutter.
One of the quickest ways to feel overwhelmed is looking around and seeing stacks of books, papers, and materials around your room. While I truly believe not every teacher’s class needs to be Pinterest worthy, it is nice to have a dedicated space for our things.
Spend some time in the next couple weeks to decide on a system that works for you and implement it. To help get started you can listen to episode 87 Classroom Organization Tips for Creating Systems, episode 74 Organizing Your Classroom: Creating Working Systems, and episode 103 Setting Up Student Organization Systems.
If you are a visual learner, try my free Better Teacher Organization 5 day challenge. It will send you actionable video lessons to your email.
3. Remove Toxic Negativity
Unfortunately schools can be rooted in heavy negativity. It’s hard staying positive about your job and love for teaching when all you hear are negative thoughts from your colleagues and possibly even your admin.
Why not set a New Year’s resolution to avoid or remove some of this toxic negativity? This might mean not eating lunch in the teacher’s lounge or hanging out after school where other teachers are venting about students or their workload. It might even mean shutting your classroom door during your prep (if you have one).
Look for teachers on your campus that have a similar mindset as yours. Surround yourself with more positive people and energy. If you don’t have anyone on your campus, look in social media for people sharing about teaching in a way that you positively react to.
One of my favorites is Life With Mrs. Jamaica even though I do not teach PreK. That is okay though because I just look at her attitude and her posts make me smile every day.
2. Focus on Professional Growth
As teachers we do a lot of professional development every year but why not set some goals? My school district requires me to set a professional growth goal every year but I usually have a hard time on being intentional with my goal until my mid and end of year reviews come up and I realize I forgot all about it!
With a new position this year, it’s been a little easier to work towards my professional goal but I always set an unofficial one for myself as well. It can be improving my mini lessons, increasing student engagement, or tightening transitions to increase learning times.
If you are a new teacher, I suggest picking one goal. On episode 108, First Year Teacher Advice: Winter Edition I talked about not trying to do everything in your first year. There will be a lot of things to try to juggle and even seasoned teachers have a difficult time trying to do it all. It’s impossible.
1. Enjoy Your Class
Last but not least, my final New Year’s resolution for teachers recommendation is to enjoy your class. We are already halfway through another school year. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it but the years go by quickly.
Just like the old saying to stop and smell the roses, we should stop and take time to just enjoy being in the moment and enjoy our students. While they need to be learning, many of our students need us to just love on them and enjoy them for who they are. Make them feel special and welcome for coming to your classroom.
Take a few minutes in the beginning of the day or end of the day to listen to them talk about themselves. One of my favorite things to incorporate all year long is called Good Things. I explain how it works on episode 41 if you’d like to listen to it. This is a technique that truly only takes 5 minutes of your day but can make a world of difference in building a positive classroom culture.