“Here’s to a new year and another chance to get it right.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
As a teacher, I feel like I get two New Year’s. Of course, every August full of anticipation and excitement. But the calendar also gives me a second chance in January, when my engine is usually not running at full steam. I welcome the opportunity to reflect and make a fresh start half-way through the school year.
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Rather than make a list of things I probably won’t follow through on past January 15 (like maintaining my gym membership or giving up “Jersey Shore”), I instead make a list of goals for myself. I don’t set start or end dates; I just hope to complete them by Dec. 31.
First up in 2011, I plan to heed some advice from my grandma. She once told me that you can spot a good mother when every one of her children thinks he or she is the favorite.
I am not a mother, but I think the same rule can be applied to teaching. So my goal this year is for all my students to think that they are my favorite. I’ll admit there are days I am at my wit’s end, but my job is to make sure they never sense that frustration. I’d like to never again hear them say, “No one loves me.” I want my students to feel loved and secure in my room, like they are indispensable to our classroom family.
Secondly, I need to learn to prioritize moments in my day. When cleaning out my old papers recently, I found a rough draft from one of last year’s students. The topic was “My Favorite Person” and he had picked me. (I’d recommend all new teachers save papers like this or write down funny anecdotes—they help you laugh when you question your sanity.) Rereading his essay, I was able to see myself through his eyes. He said I was his favorite person because “my crown is silly looking” (for the record, it’s a very lovely pink tiara, and I only use it during guided reading) and because I “dance funny” (I sincerely beg to differ). He listed a slew of other reasons why I make his day.
Yet, not once did he mention a single lesson I had planned or any skill I had taught. Amidst my hectic days and my fervent need to drill facts into my students’ little minds, I need to remember that the most important moments are sometimes the ones just spent building rapport. No moment is wasted.
Lastly, I want to be more organized. In my brief career, I have somehow accumulated massive amounts of materials and ideas. I am guilty of sometimes attempting too many things at once—there are so many good ideas and I want to try them all! Like juggling, though, it is best to add one ball at a time; throw ten balls at me at once and I just may drop them all. Sometimes I look back and I find good ideas that I’ve already forgotten. I need to learn to have a revolving door of ideas, to not save every old idea as I bring in new ones. The way I’m going, I could end up on a teacher’s edition of “Hoarders.”
As we embark on a new year, with new challenges and new blessings, I wish you all a happy and healthy 2011!