As a teacher, your New Year’s resolutions involve more than the average person. You're running a classroom, keeping up with administrative policies, navigating parents, and trying to attend to your students' needs. On top of that, you have your own personal and career goals you'd like to achieve. That's a lot. To help you narrow it down, we've put together 10 resolutions we think lay a good foundation for a successful new year.
1. Stay positive
One of the most common teacher resolutions is making your classroom a happy place for you and your students. Take a little bit of time every week to highlight 3 positive events with your students. This is a great way for both you and your students to reflect on their week with a positive mindset. Then you can start implementing long-term initiatives like 7 Strategies For Building Positive Classrooms, which include teaching positive action and instilling intrinsic motivation.
2. Practice mindfulness
Because teaching is an extraordinarily busy profession, it’s so easy to get caught up in following each day’s agenda to a T. Take some time to stop and appreciate your class. Relish in those fleeting golden moments with your students. The silly moments, the aha moments, the ‘I need some encouragement’ moments. Do you keep forgetting to pause? Here are a couple of tips.
When you’ve finished teaching a section of your material, take a few deep breaths to slow the pace down. You can do this with your kids too.
If you still find your mind wandering back to your agenda, pick up an item on your desk and describe how it feels in your hand. You can even keep a designated item such as an eraser for this activity.
3. Spice up your classroom routine
You’ve had a routine that’s gotten you through year after year but try one new technology or instructional technique each month to keep things new and challenging for you and your students. Making a list and assigning one new thing to each month will help you actually stick to this teacher resolution. Check out our Pinterest for lots of DIY print-outs and many teacher resources that we loved! We also gathered Online Resources For The Visual Arts and virtual teaching tools that might be perfect for your class.
4. Incorporate wellness
Get everyone out of their seats by integrating more segments that improve health. Make it a classroom affair with healthy eating lessons, integrating movement into your day-to-day activities. If everyone has been sitting around for too long and you can see eyes starting to glaze over, get everyone to stand up and stretch. Better yet, rally together other teachers interested in making health a priority this year, and hold each other accountable with movement breaks and recipe swaps.
5. Schedule quality time for... yourself!
You're constantly told to maintain a good work/life balance. But honestly, that can feel so impossible to achieve. Simply stating you want better work/life management can be overwhelming, especially when it feels like you're overworking every day. I'm looking at you, pile of ungraded assignments. As best you can, keep school work at school.
Try these 9 tips on how to put away your work even though you feel like the work is never finished. You deserve to have a life not consumed by teaching. Practicing self-care allows you to show up as your best each day. Making yourself happy will be better for you AND your students.
6. Don't let admin & school policies get you down
As a teacher, you won’t always agree with certain school policies or how admin manages situations. First, keep your cool even though you feel frustrated. Don’t let that sour mood infest you and your classroom. Try out one of these 10 tips from setting intentions to practicing gratitude. Then, try to find ways you can do something about the problem. Team up with other teachers who feel the same way and collaborate on strategies to take.
You and your fellow teachers can speak up and set boundaries. Write everything down to keep a record. Always try taking action instead of accepting defeat from the get-go!
7. Plan your move up the pay scale
Revisit your career goals and confirm what you’re trying to accomplish. If you don’t have clear career goals, start setting them. Whether you need to add professional development hours, graduate credits, or change positions, start moving to achieve them. If you’re looking for a new job, check out what the current Scoot openings are.
If you’re looking to substitute teach with Scoot, you’ll also receive professional development through our performance management process.
8. Involve and empower students
By giving students more control over their assignments and activities, they will hopefully take ownership of their education and use their talents and interests in a positive way. It doesn’t have to be formal one-on-ones, tutoring, or meetings, but try to integrate a rotating classroom job in which your students help you do something. You can check-in with him/her individually and see how everything is going (whether they’re the best, worst, loudest, or quietest student in class).
9. Get better at planning & organizing
Resolve to make the most of your day. Minimize distractions (hello Facebook & Instagram scrolling) and instead use that time to plan out your goals for yourself and the classroom. With the fresh start, it’s a great opportunity to get your classroom organization back on track. What are one or two things you think are important but forget as soon as the flurry of the teaching gets in the way? Write one achievable goal a month on your calendar and make it a priority.
10. Incorporate diversity
Teach more about diversity and inclusion in your classroom. Diversify your curriculum by incorporating text written by authors of different colors and backgrounds. Practice using more inclusive language with your kids. If you're unsure what incorporating diversity really means, get educated by reading literature, watching shows, or listening to podcasts. There are tons of amazing resources!
Also consider watching our webinar recording on "Moving Towards An Anti-Racist Teaching Practice For Non-Black Educators," which includes a free workbook. You don’t have to achieve ALL of these new year’s resolutions for teachers. Being overambitious can overwhelm you. Instead, pick one or two that will bring the most value to you and commit to them all year. Achieving your teacher resolutions will take time and energy. Be kind to yourself whenever you stumble and celebrate any and all progress along the way.
About the Author
James Sanders Graduated RMIT University summa cum laude where he won the university’s highest achievement awarded to one student each year. After university, James founded Australia’s largest not-for-profit organization for connecting entrepreneurs, before joining Deloitte Consulting for a nine-year period first in Australia and then in the United States. In 2017, he partnered with Anzuk Education’s Daniel Mundy to found Scoot Education, making it simpler, faster and more collaborative to get great teachers into classrooms and drive stronger learning outcomes as a result.