I don’t make personal resolutions at the beginning of each new year. This is mostly because I try not to lie to myself. I already know I’m not going to go to the gym unless they start selling mocha frappuccinos. And given my love for the aforementioned mocha frappuccinos and my hatred of the gym, losing that “last” ten pounds isn’t likely to happen either.
2017 was an amazing and challenging year in which I was forced to grow both as a person and as a teacher. As I enter 2018, I do so with a somewhat different perspective on myself as a teacher and on the teaching profession in general; this new perspective has led me to create some professional resolutions.
- I resolve to meet my students where they truly are and not where I think they should be. As teachers, one of our challenges is meeting the needs of all of our students, the ones who need guidance and the ones who just NEED. This can only happen if we are honest with ourselves and our students about where they are when they come to us; not where we think they should be when they come to us.
- I resolve to hear each student’s voice every day. As a high school teacher, I see approximately 140 students EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Recently, at the end of a particularly challenging class, I realized I hadn’t entered my attendance at the beginning of the period (this should probably be on the resolutions list…), so I sat down to do it at the end. In the process, I realized that I couldn’t remember whether a specific student had been in my class. I couldn’t remember if I had seen this student or not. This is unacceptable. I resolve to not only SEE my students, but to HEAR my students, each of them, every day.
- I resolve to grade less and teach more. I’m not one of the teachers who can honestly say that I feel grades are unimportant; I feel that accurate grading serves as an important feedback tool for teachers, parents, and students. Grades are a universal language we can all understand. Even so, I sometimes find myself planning lessons with the grading load in mind. I have been guilty of letting my grading dictate my teaching. No more. In 2018, my students will dictate my teaching (see resolution 1).
- I resolve to find balance between work and home. My son, like the children of many teachers, has spent a large amount of time playing in my classroom. When he was very little, he used to watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles through my projector on my white board. He’s had numerous dinosaur battles in the middle of my classroom floor. This year, he helped me put together my homeroom packets and it only cost me a “high school pencil.” I don’t regret the time he has spent with me in my classroom; I want him to understand how hard I work for my students and how hard his teachers work for him. At the same time, I never want my family to doubt that they are a priority to me. So, I will work less at home. I will be more present with my students in the classroom and more present with my family outside of it.
- I resolve to remember why I love teaching. I was asked recently why I have stayed a teacher. There are a lot of factors that impact whether or not a teacher will stay in the classroom, but I truly believe there’s only one reason to stay: the kids. Over the past 14 years I have kept every note or card a student has given me. I’ve dedicated an entire drawer in my desk to them. Even in a profession you love, not every day can be a good day. On the not so good days, I randomly choose a couple of these cards to read to remind me exactly why I stay. Those kids are worth it; all of them. The easy ones and the harder ones. The ones you connect with and the ones who fight the connection. They’re all worth it. Every day.
WVCTE is wondering what your classroom resolutions are for 2018?