It’s almost time to think about New Year’s resolutions. Now, I’m not here to talk about losing weight or cutting your spending. Those are things you can decide for yourself. I’m here today to bring you some totally doable TEACHER RESOLUTIONS!
Wouldn’t it be great to have your weekends? To not work every night? To be healthy? To really improve your teaching? These are things all teachers want, but how do we do this? Read on!
Resolution 1. Don’t work all weekend.
First, let me say that I worked all weekend for many years. Sunday was spent locked in my office, grading papers, putting in grades, planning lessons, cutting apart manipulatives, and even, at the beginning of my career, turning my hands blue, green, and purple washing overhead projector pages. Yes, my first teaching job had no projector to hook to my computer. I didn’t even have a whiteboard to write on. I had a screen with an overhead projector, and every single lesson I taught had to be written on these pages. Sigh….
In the end, I realized that I was working so hard that I could not continue at that pace. I began to get burned out. I would bring papers home, but I could not make myself grade them. And guess what? My students still learned even if they had to wait one more day to get their homework back. They still scored so well on their assessments. They still took the AP test and rocked it. So, what can you do to not work all weekend?
1. Stay late one night a week to grade and plan.
2. Grade some papers together in class.
4. Formatively assess.
To make your own:
Go to the hardware store and find white panel-board. It comes in a large board, but most large stores will cut it for you in 12″ X 12″ or 12″ X 16″ for a few dollars extra. Total cost for 24 boards is about $15.
5. Let technology work for you.
Have you tried Boom learning yet? At Boom, you’ll find digital task cards that kids love.
It is awesome, because you can find already-made activities by fellow teachers, kids love the technology aspect, and the activities are self-checking! I love to use them for my son at home, and he thinks the practice is a lot of fun! Want to try out a free deck?
Resolution 2. Take care of yourself.
2. Make the most of your weekends.
Make sure you are getting some quality downtime doing something you love. Whether it is going to the movies with your kids, getting dinner with an old friend, or simply taking a walk, make sure you are taking time to do something you love. If your weekend consists of grading papers, lesson planning, grocery shopping, and laundry, you won’t be ready to go back to work on Monday. Take some time, even if it is one hour, to do something just for you.
3. Find the joy in what you are doing.
4. Celebrate your successes.
Benchmarking, constant assessing, and endless paperwork can make teaching become so much less personal than it should be. Sure, when your class scores well or your principal comes in at just the right moment to see a great lesson, you can pat yourself on the back, but don’t forget the small things. Did that student who has struggled all year have an Aha! moment? Did you find a new activity that your class loved? Did you lead a great community service project? Did you make a child who never smiles share a big smile with you or someone else? These are all worth celebrating. Test scores are important, but they are not why we became teachers. Don’t forget why you are there, and celebrate the little things you do that make you a good teacher.
5. Become a better teacher.
Take classes that help you focus on what you love about education. Learn new technology. Visit other classrooms or other schools. Ask for help. Have a colleague observe you or ask your students for feedback. Growing as a teacher never stops unless you stop trying.
Resolution 3. Don’t be afraid to say no.
You want to help. I get it. For several years, I was a full-time teacher to 150 kids. I also finished my Master’s, coached, wrote curriculum for four courses, and served as the district Foreign Language Chair. In my spare time (as if), I tutored a family on the weekends. I just never said no to anyone, because I knew I was capable, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I also needed those extra jobs, because I was paying for my degree on a teacher’s salary. In the end, I got the work done well, but I lost touch with some of my oldest friends. People just don’t understand the demands of teacher life. When I realized how much I missed certain friends, or how long it had been since I had done some of my favorite hobbies, I said, “Enough is enough.” Ten years later, I have stepped down from so many roles, and I’m a lot happier. Sure, I have been offered some positions that would be great on a resume or make me feel like I’m more accomplished professionally, but I turned them down. I don’t feel bad explaining that my family comes first. Does it make me a lesser teacher? NO! I am better than ever now, because I am not pulled in twenty directions. I’m dedicated to creating meaningful lessons for my students, to connecting with each and every one, to being the best me I can be for everyone I love in my life. I make time for my girlfriends. I take hikes with my family. I attend every activity my son does, and I’m loving where I am in life! 💖