Resolutions are made to be broken. I was supposed to drop ten pounds in 2016, but instead, I found room for ten more. I began 2016 volunteering more of my time, but that soon gave way to chauffeuring my son to tutoring. I wanted to spend more time with the fam, but my nieces keep getting older and we never got around to our girls’ weekend of pizza and anime.
So what is it about resolutions that makes them impossible to keep? Life is messy. Too messy to plan specifically. The unexpected comes up and its urgency tramples the best laid plans.
Maybe my resolutions were too specific. Maybe they need to be more general so that I can find a way to success. Instead of “lose ten pounds,” I’ll try “be more active.” Instead of “volunteer once a week,” I’ll try “be more generous with my time when I can.” Instead of “have a girls’ weekend” with two hopelessly busy teenagers, I’ll try “spend more quality time with family.”
But how can this apply to my classroom? I know I need to do a better job on several fronts. I know I need to be more organized, do better at differentiation, do a better job at connecting with my students and their parents, so how can I make these things work? I don’t want to give up on resolutions, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure, either.
I have a broad plan this year to set myself up for success.
Here’s how I’ll approach organization:
Very simply put, this year, I intend to embrace my lack of it. I won’t waste hours filing and labeling, and working against my nature to make everything look pretty. That takes too much time away from the things that truly matter, like planning and making connections. And it’s a losing battle for me.
I will stop apologizing for my messy desk. I know where everything is, and it works for me, so I’m going with it. I will keep the piles on my desk. I just need to remember to recycle the things at the bottom of the piles periodically. If they’re at the bottom, I probably don’t use them.
Differentiation is so important, and in the age of technology, it’s easier to implement than ever. Exit tickets are a quick way to do it and so is the exit quiz.
All I need to do is assign an exit ticket or quiz the last five minutes of class to see what I might need to reteach to whom–easy, right?
Well, yes and no. My issues tend to go back to organization (and my struggles with it). In this case, it’s time management. I’ll have the exit tickets ready to go, but then the bell sneaks up on me.
My resolution is to time each activity. I always plan to, but then I get distracted. I will keep this timer site bookmarked so that it is super easy for me to say, ” Okay, you have 15 minutes to work on this, and then we’re moving on.” There are all types of fun timers to choose from–hourglass, bomb, rocket….
Google Forms now has a self grading quiz option (not the old add-on Flubaroo) that gives students instant feedback. I will use these for those five minute exit quizzes to see if students understand the crux of the lesson. I’ll put a tutorial up on how to do this next week–it’s super easy if you don’t already know.
I also organized my digital exit tickets into single slides so that it’s effortless to assign one at a time. I can just make a copy and assign it without having to delete all of the slides I’m not using.
You can find the pre-made Digital Exit Tickets HERE.
Here’s how I’ll do a better job connecting with my students and their parents:
I always fall into the same trap each year–calling only when there’s a problem. My goal this year is to connect with parents each week for positive feedback (notice I’m not giving an exact number, that way, if it’s a busy week and I’ve only made contact with one or two parents, I haven’t failed).
I also want to continue my efforts to center aspects of lessons around student’s interests (I talked about that HERE) and to really listen to them and foster positive discussions.
Oh yeah–let’s not forget to have fun in 2017!
Because we do have a fun job, and it’s easy to forget.
So I want to close this post by talking about a really fun, extemporaneous thing that went on in my classroom in 2016. One of my students got a teddy bear from his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. He had it in class, and it was causing quite the disruption, so I confiscated it.
The bell rang, and I realized that I still had his bear. I meant to give it back to him at the end of class but forgot.
It was my planning block, and I had tons of stuff to do, but instead I took the bear up and down my hallway. I teach on the social studies/ foreign language floor, so teachers have a ton of props. I went from room to room, photographing the bear with different props. I made memes about them.
The next day, my student entered class and asked for his bear. I told him I wasn’t sure where the bear went, but that I kept getting these crazy postcards from him. I pointed to the screen at the front of my room, and there was one of the memes projected. He laughed and sat down.
Everyday, he came in and asked about his bear, I pointed to the screen. Finally, when I ran out of memes, I gave him his bear, saying that he had turned back up. Check out the slideshow of Mr. Bear’s Adventures below. PLEASE IGNORE THE MESS!!! I know it’s Lewis and Clark….
I wish you all a happy, healthy, safe, productive, fun, and messy 2017!
As we embark on a year of uncertainty, we must consider equity and distance learning. This post discusses how to make virtual learning more equitable in 3 steps and comes with a downloadable cheat sheet.
Do you feel like you’re teaching in uncertain times? You’re not alone. But there are certain things that will always be certain. Like–your students need you to be there for them. Click through to find out how to do that with Culturally Responsive Teaching in Any Setting.
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