Each August, I get a renewed sense of purpose, probably as a result of binge-watching Madam Secretary and inspirational YouTube videos. Nevertheless, the start of a new school year is a time of new beginnings! As you start creating those new bulletin boards and imagining the personalities that will fill your classroom this year, consider making a few back-to-school resolutions for you and your students. Here are mine:
1. Listen first.
How many times have I wished that a student would listen to my directions before asking a question or blindly starting a project? If only students would slow down and really pay attention when someone is talking. On the flip side though, how many times have I assumed what happened with a student before I really listened to their side of the story? This year, I’m pledging to stop, listen, and really understand my students before I react.
2. Give it 100%, then let it go.
I can’t even count the number of times last year that I gave something 100% of my time, effort, and energy—and then just kept hammering away, trying to make it happen. For example, we had a science project with a new, fancy app that turned out to have a ton of technology problems. We tried and tried to get their projects perfect, but inevitably it would crash each time. Instead of beating myself up over it, I wish I would’ve just let it go and revamped the project. This year, I hope to have the perspective to try my best… and then let it go. Maybe that will help my students know that it’s okay to fail too.
3. Be adventurous.
With a new textbook adoption and some changes to the school environment, it would be easy to be intimidated this year. Almost everything I do will have to be different, innovative, and outside of my comfort zone. So, here’s to being adventurous! My resolution is to expand my teaching experience by bringing in these new ideas and trying them out. The worst case scenario is that I have some more “rookie mistakes” to add to my list. Besides, we’re all about growth mindset, right? What could be more perfect than bravely going into the unknown? It’ll set a great example for my students—whether the ideas are successful or not!
4. Look for the big picture.
I teach Language Arts, so our class often discusses why a particular text matters in the real world. This is probably the most interesting part of our class, as we search for deeper meaning in a text and apply it to the big picture of life in 2017. Likewise, I want to encourage them to see their education as part of the big picture. School is important to their future and their success, but so are good relationships, a stable family life, and a healthy lifestyle. I would like to give students more of that perspective this year, helping them to work on those aspects of their life just as much as their schoolwork.
5. Read, Read, Read!
I saw huge growth this year by being diligent about student reading—not with reading logs and point systems, but by encouraging good books. Students who struggled in primary grades were now reading long, engaging texts and they liked them! It was a rewarding part of our year together and it helped create some lifelong readers. I will definitely be putting reading at the center of my year again, in hopes of instilling that love in more students.
What are your back-to-school resolutions? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, back-to-school emotions every teacher experiences.