In my classroom:
- Create more buy in. I recently read the transcript of a speech given by Simon Sinek about how great leaders inspire action. He repeats this very impactful phrase: People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. So I vow to share more of my love and passion for my profession with my students. They don’t have to love English class, but they have to try hard, work hard, and be successful. I am the variable–and catalyst–in that equation.
- Create real engagement. I want my students to take my class seriously. I work hard to make lessons for them that are not only valid and worthwhile, but engaging. But what is real engagement? Silent students working at their desks? Loud groups debating important content? For me, it’s making my kids forget they have a cell phone. When they are so engaged in something that they do not need to check their latest text or play a round of Trivia Crack, I know I’ve got them.
- Offer real feedback instead of praise. I’ve written about feedback before, and I truly try to follow my own rules concerning it, but at times it’s so easy for me to walk around my classroom and say “nice!” or “good job!”–sometimes I give in. I want to focus my feedback to students in order to help them reach the lesson’s goal instead of making them feel “good”. So I vow to incorporate more questions that lead my students to truly reaching the goal set forth for them. No more shallow praise! Everything that comes out of my mouth needs to be worthy of being said and have a purpose for my students. Praise can be saved for more 1:1 experiences if necessary.
- Let go and trust…myself and my kids. If I truly want to teach my students about persevering through difficult content and learning challenging skills, I need to let them struggle. Sometimes I think, “Oh no! I made this too difficult. Now they are never going to get to where I need them to be.” This almost always turns out to be false. By the end of a difficult lesson I have heard “I can’t” more times than I can count, but 99% of the time, the kids are successful and accomplish the goal of the lesson. I have been teaching for 7 years. I’m no newbie and I need to trust that my skills and understandings of my students are on par. And I need to trust that they will make it to the goal without my constant watch.
In my career:
- Stop questioning my own decisions. I make professional decisions every day. Not only about content, teaching and learning strategies, and lessons, but also about how to interact with my students, how to tackle a particularly difficult situation, and how to combat (and comply with…) the constant barrage of mandates from the state, county, and district. I make professional decisions because I am a professional. I can back them up with valid evidence and reasoning. There is no need for me to question my own thinking every step of the way. So I vow to trust myself.
- Not get pushed around. I will not let politicians–or anyone else who knows nothing about educating students–tell me how to do my job. I am going to do what is right for my students (within the boundaries of my position) because, well, I DO love my job, and I AM passionate about what I do. And I am not about to let someone who is not invested in my students’ success tell me what is best for them.
What are your Reso-and Revo-lutions?