New Years Eve: 2013-2014 School Year Resolutions

It's a teacher post... you've been warned...

Teachers have two New Year's Eves- the traditional December 31st and then the night before the first day of school. Call me corny, but I find making a few goals a nice way to transition back into the daily grind (today was day 3; it is most definitely a grind). I'm not one of those cheerleader-y teachers who are super pumped and think that "this is going to be the best year ever!" but I am someone who tries to do a decent job at whatever she does. Hence the goals- a way to refocus, reprioritize, and, realistically, probably set myself up for failure ('tis the sesason).

1. Continue to improve time management 
I do a decent job of not wasting time at work; I figure the more I do at school, the less I do at home (this is what I tell my students too). I adamantly refuse to work during lunch or see students during that time- that thirty-five minutes is my time to visit with friends and, of course, eat. I do notice that here and there, especially for the thirty or so minutes between me arriving at work and my prep starting during first period I tend to be pretty stagnant (probably because I'm not exactly a morning person). I want to make that thirty minutes a set grading block starting this year (so not eating breakfast, reading CNN, or texting). 

This also means time off; weekends and most evenings should not be about work. 

2. Bring in new routines and activties
So far I'm instituting POW! (poem of the week) for my seniors, a monthly current events project for my sophomores, and academic journal writing prompts for all of my students. I want to get these three new things down during the next six or so weeks before I start anything else.

3. Be better about facilitating my own professional development
Frankly, the professional developments put on by our site and district aren't always what will work best with me and my students (I know, I know- can't please them all!). This year I'd like to spend at least 30 minutes a week reading up on articles and websites that discuss new trends in education and advancements on teaching Common Core. 

4. Continue to maintain, and develop, positive relationships with students
I really do love my students- they're what keep me in the profession (although the summers aren't bad). I am a definite believer that students will work hard for you if they like you. I know it's not supposed to be that way, but it's true. I'm firm with them and have high expectations, but we also have a lot of fun and have great conversations.

[Raven Chic Studio]

5. Keep grades current
I'm horrible at grading in a timely fashion. Just think- 100 essays at 5 minutes a pop ends up being over eight hours to grade, per set. That's on top of their other work, plus planning and running the yearbook. That being said, I need to make sure I'm setting deadlines for myself and getting my students back the feedback they deserve while the message is still relevant. My hope is that I can get them back their standard assignments within a week and their larger essays back within two weeks. I also need to be strategic about when I schedule assignments.

6. Remember, work is work 
Honestly, sometimes work is really annoying (see: paperwork, colleagues, changes, missing comfy desk chair, bathrooms lacking TP, students, getting up early, classroom interruptions, etc...). But that's just it: it's work. Work is not my life- my family, friends, hobbies, dogs, and home are my life. I want to do a great job while I'm there, but I refuse to become a cranky bitch because work is sometimes a little irritating. All I can control is my classroom.

7. Train my new yearbook students quickly and efficiently 
I have a ton of newbies, many of which are actually my English students. I need to get them up and moving soon so that we can focus on producing a high-quality book that does a better job with both photography and captions this year.

8. Review and drill important skills
Some of my students are still struggling with MLA while others have a seriously hard time creating argumentative theses. My sophomores obviously get more leniency, but there's no excuse for my seniors to still struggle with some of these things. Time to shape 'em up. 

9. Advance Planning
Having first period prep has made me a more lax in how I plan; when I was an elementary teacher I had everything ready on Friday for the upcoming week. Now, not so much. My goal is to be planned and prepped for three days out at all times (long term I plan a book or writing genre at a time). 

10. Outside Sources
Work harder to vary my sources for outside material for students. My husband recently bought a digital subscription to the New Yorker and Wired, so I'm excited to bum some articles off of him. 

So, that's it. Realistically, I'm not going to excel at them all, but if I work to improve in each area I'll be sufficiently happy.

1 comment:

  1. I hope that it ends up being another great school year! These are all great things to aim for. I agree that if you improve in some areas, it'll be worth the effort.

    A veteran teacher taught me all her secrets to speedy grading during my first year, and I was forever indebted. I would grade in the morning, between classes, in the afternoon, but never at home. It kept me sane. With all the preps you have, I'm sure it's tricky. Not to mention the fact that you teach English! Essays are a beast!