Each year, I love to set and try to successfully live out my New Year's resolutions. Some of them are easy to keep and others - well, not so much. But there's something about that feeling of accomplishment when a resolution comes to fruition, whether it's losing that extra ten pounds or offering forgiveness to someone even when it is not deserved.
As a teacher, I enjoy setting teaching resolutions along with my personal resolutions each year. These serve as goals for myself as well as my students. It gives me a drive and dedication as I finish out the school year. For me, these resolutions give me the second wind that I need to go into the second semester with the same energy and excitement as I had at the beginning of the year.
This year, I've decided to share my resolutions. I hope that they bring inspiration and motivation. I hope that they encourage you to persevere with boldness, creativity, and innovation in the classroom. But more than anything, I hope that they give you a desire to be the best teacher that you can be in 2014.
Resolution #1: I resolve to understand my students as individuals.
So often as teachers, we see our students as a class and not as individuals. We set goals for our class, plan lessons for our class, and even discipline them as a class. I think it's very important that we remember that our students are individuals. They are all very different and will set upon very different paths as they navigate through life. Some of them will go home to parents that love and care for them while others will go to bed hungry and dirty. Some of our students will go home and study for the test in the morning while others will babysit their siblings and just hope they can get to school on time. They deserve to be treated as individuals in the classroom even when it is challenging. Different circumstances should warrant different classroom experiences. We can not continue to offer a one size fits all classroom experience and expect students to be successful. Most of our students long to learn and have an intrinsic motivation to investigate, create, and discover. However, if we fail to give them the opportunity to do so, we are not doing our jobs as educators.
Resolution #2: I resolve to engage my students in meaningful activities.
Planning lessons can be difficult when we are aiming for high test scores as well as meaningful activities that students will enjoy. I am in no way a fan of standardized testing, but I understand that it is part of my job to teach the standards that are given each year. While using workbooks and worksheets is easy and will allow me to check off the standards as I go, such activities are not meaningful to my students. Instead, they give students the impression that my only goal for them is to do well on the test. In fact, my goal for my students is to learn the standards that are given in a way that is meaningful to them as individuals. I want them to have a desire to learn and to gain a curiosity about the world around them. In order to provide these meaningful activities, it is important that I understand and really know my students as I explained in my first resolution. Learning what makes them tick will give me the insight that I need to plan activities that will be relevant to them. Real learning and real understanding is not going to happen with worksheets but instead will happen when I purposefully plan lessons that give my students the opportunity to connect with the concepts that we are learning in class.
Resolution #3: I resolve to give my students the opportunity to explore their passions.
Just before Thanksgiving, I began reading about Genius Hour and Innovations on Twitter. I have to say that this has reignited my passion for teaching and has given my students a motivation that is unprecedented in my teaching experience. Because I have given them the opportunity to explore their passions, they are excited, driven, and engaged in their learning. I hope to continue to learn more about this style of learning and how to carry it out effectively in my classroom. Since implementing passion driven learning in my classroom, my students are learning things about themselves as well as each other. Passion driven activities give them an opportunity to explore things that are relevant to them which results in students that are motivated to learn and interact with the world around them. And that makes for one happy teacher!
Resolution #4: I resolve to help my students use technology to discover the world.
Technology is tearing down the walls of the classroom and allowing students to experience the world in ways that were once thought impossible. As their teacher, I feel it is my job to guide them as they learn to use technology in new and exciting ways. Giving students a voice by allowing them to blog or allowing them to Skype with someone in another part of the world changes their learning experience. We are able to take our learning from the classroom and share it with the world. I have learned that technology integration in the classroom must be purposeful. Using technology simply for the sake for using technology is pointless. However, using technology in an effort to give my students an authentic audience and a place to discover new things will give them opportunities beyond what we can even imagine. I resolve to continue to learn about the incredible and surprising ways that technology is being used in the classroom. Continuing to be a connected educator is just one of the many ways that I plan to stay on top of technology in education and the ways that I can use it effectively in my classroom.
Resolution #5: I resolve to encourage other teachers to make their classrooms a place for students to discover and explore their passions.
I am amazed every day at the number of educators that are not connected and do not know about the exciting things going on education today. I hope to encourage many teachers on my campus and in my area to get connected and share what they are doing in their classrooms. Just in the short time that I have been connected through social media like Edmodo and Twitter, my teaching experience has changed. I am trying new things, sharing my experiences, and collaborating with other educators all over the world. In doing so, my classroom has changed. While change can be scary and intimidating, it can also be refreshing and invigorating. One spark of change can light a fire of curiosity that will spread like wildfire. I want to be that spark!
Thank you for taking the time to read my resolutions. Feel free to comment and share some of your teaching resolutions. I hope you all have a wonderful start to 2014! Let's be awesome this year!