It’s time for a new year! You might look ahead to 2018 with anticipation that in the new year things can be better. Or perhaps you feel overwhelmed. When January hits, it’s time to get back down to business at school. There is a lot to get done by May and the coming of the new year makes us feel the need to scramble. Here are a few things you can do to get a leg up and make the most of the new year and finish the school year strong.
I know, I know, everyone is setting their new year resolutions. According to US News,
about 80% of resolutions will fail by the beginning of February.
The problem with resolutions is their grandiose, all-or-nothing nature. Instead, follow these suggestions of Elena Aguilar, writer at Edutopia:
• Ditch the Traditional Resolutions: Instead, set goals based on changes you want to see. Give yourself time to daydream about your ideal classroom and how it would be different than it is now. Now, what would it take to get you there?
• Baby Steps: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The same is true for making changes. When we make even small changes, they can have a significant impact on our lives. When we try to change too much at once we get overwhelmed and fail.
• Identify Potential Roadblocks: If you want to change something, think about what might get in your way. Maybe you want to follow through with parent contact more consistently. What might get in the way? Perhaps a fear of disgruntled parents, or you continuously run out of time. Find a way to mitigate those roadblocks. An inspiring quote might give you the courage to call. Setting aside a designated time and a timer can help you prioritize.
• Expect setbacks:
No one does anything perfectly the first time. We don’t expect that of our students, so why expect that of ourselves?
Maybe your goal is to be more organized but one (or two, or a few nights) you don’t take the time to put away your books and papers at the end of the day like you’d planned. Don’t beat yourself up about it and try to do better the next day.
• Let Today Be Enough: You have a plan, some goals and you know what you want to change in your classroom. Now you have to get down to the business of actually making the changes. This can be the hardest part. When we see all the changes we need to make, we get overwhelmed. Focus only on what you can do today and let that be enough.
• Be Present: This is the key to enjoying your job (or anything.) Instead of spending all your time worrying about your endless to-do list, tomorrow’s lesson plans, the meeting next week, or your observation in the morning, focus on today. Do your best each day to keep the overwhelming post-holiday stress at bay.
• Rest, Recharge, and Rejuvenate: The holidays give us a chance to take care of ourselves, get some good rest, spend time with family, and hopefully a mental break from thinking about teaching. When you come back to work, it is easy to fall back into bad habits. Be sure to meet your basic needs. It sounds simple, but eat something healthy. Get a good breakfast, get plenty of sleep, and drink lots of water. These things will help you feel better and do your best.
• Take Some ‘ME’ Time: Teaching is a stressful profession. It requires that you give a lot of yourself, so be sure to take care of yourself. Do something for yourself every day. Maybe you enjoy crafting, reading, running, or baking. Whatever you enjoy, set aside some time each day to do it.
• Make a Change: Make a change in your classroom. Incorporate something new into your routine. Changing it up occasionally breaks up the monotony of the day-to-day. Maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to try, a workshop you’ve always wanted to attend, or a book you’ve always wanted to read. Think of how you’d like to grow professionally and take the leap. A few suggestions are:
➢ A special greeting for your students at the beginning of the day
➢ Incorporate morning meeting
➢ Try an innovative curriculum with VideoModeling® that your students will love
➢ Play music while students come in or as they are working
➢ Weekly/biweekly cooperative games
➢ Yoga, meditation, etc.
Amy Curletto has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.