An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~Bill Vaughan (1915–1977), in The Kansas City Star

If you’ve been anywhere near social media, then you know the vast majority of the world was ready for 2016 to come to an end.  And I’ll admit, part of me was right there with them.  This year saw the horrific violence of Syria, we lost Leonard Cohen, Prince, David Bowie and Princess Leia, and let’s not even talk about the chaotic, weird, divisive United States election.

Yeah, 2016 was a doosey.  For a hilarious recap, check out this parody of a man who slept through 2016.

Like most folks, when New Year’s Eve approached this week, my knee-jerk reaction was “good riddance 2016.”  But then, I sat down to draft this blog post and realized that for all the awful things that happened in the past year, there was also an extraordinary amount of awesome, specifically for our WVCTE community.

For starters, WVCTE received its official NCTE affiliate status, our membership has grown, we’ve connected educators across the state, and we’ve begun planning our first state-wide conference for March 2018.  Our little organization hosted its first professional development session in September with the authors of Writing with Mentors, Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell, and it was attended by over 40 teachers from West Virginia and Maryland.  Our Best Practices blog has been reaching teachers all over the state, country, and world, and we’ve given West Virginia ELA teachers a platform to share their stories, success, and strategies. (And we designed these really great t-shirts…)

So no, I can’t say the 2016 was a bad year.  In fact it was an incredible year, and 2017 has some pretty big shoes to fill.  I look forward to the next year with hope and optimism.

And like most hopeful, optimistic people I have made qutie a few New Year Resolutions. Most of them are pretty standard proclamations like “get fit,” “get more sleep,” and “drink more water,” but I’ve also made a few Teacher resolutions, and I would like to share two of them here:

Teacher Resolution Number 1
Make art every day. 

I am writer.  But I don’t write as much as I should because I’m a teacher, and therefore, I am tired.  I’m working, or grading, or being a mother to my children or a wife to my husband.  And so my writing does not get written.  It gets jotted down in half-remembered notebooks or napkins shoved into pockets.

But you know what?  I’m a better writing teacher when I’m writing or creating.  I’m happier when I’m writing.  I understand better what I am asking of my students when I am writing.  And so I am going to make time to write.

I bet you’re a better teacher when you are creating, or writing, or painting, or making music.
Don’t stop making art.  Resolve to practice what you teach, and you’ll find your teaching will be different, more thoughtful and creative because of this.

Teacher Resolution Number 2
Find inspiration every day. 

Going back to school after a break can be tough.  I wrote about this for our blog back in August.. January-March is a hard time for me.  I am a summertime child.  I love the sun and the outdoors.  So the cold, dark stretch from New Years to Spring Break is my most trying “teacher time.”  I feel uninspired, short tempered, and it’s just so daggone cold.

But this is a critical time for my students, and they need me light their fires of inspiration.  I need to find my light when the outside world is dark and dreary and all I want to do is hibernate and make chili. So what do I do?

I discovered there are things that work on me like sunlight: art, beautiful films, poetry, music, great conversation, and talking to other teachers.

If you’re like me and you need inspiration from time to time, look for opportunities to connect with other educators in Twitter chats or through the WVCTE blog.

Some great Twitter chats to check out are the #aplang chat, the #aplit chat, the #apeng chat, and the #wvedchat.

I have had some of my most inspiring conversations with other teachers on social media platforms.  And it’s a great place to find other ways to get inspired.  For example, my best pal and the WVCTE Executive Vice President, Karla Hilliard, tweeted me this beautiful cover of Leonard Cohen’s spoken word poem, Democracy by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.

And this 3 minute video made me want to make the world a better place.  I listened and watched, and I when it ended wanted to go right to my classroom and teach, write poetry, sing, and wave an American flag.

I was inspired.

And there is no better way to head back into a classroom in January.

If you like these two Teacher resolutions, then make them your own.  I wish you all a joyful, productive, and inspired 2017.

Happy New Year!

What are your Teacher Resolutions? Leave us a comment, find us on Facebook, or tweet us @WVCTE.

Jessica Salfia is a teacher and writer in Martinsburg, WV, and is the current President of WVCTE. You can see what Jessica is doing in her classroom by visiting or by following her on Twitter @jessica_salfia.

Categories: Blog

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