With the coming of a new year we also get the closing of a semester, the excitement of children dreaming of presents and time off from school. It’s a magical time and an extremely stressful time for teachers. I’m tempted to say exactly what everyone around me needs to change before they come back to my classroom after the holidays. But what about me? What resolutions should I make? Although I view myself as the long-suffering saint, there are probably a few things I could improve on.
I will pay attention and monitor student behavior and catch them sooner. This seems harsh, but it is for their sake, not mine. How many times have I let what’s going on in the classroom just continue while I taught the almighty lesson, only to eventually realize I was suddenly at my boiling point. Not one more sound or off-task action could I take. This is when everyone is in Big Trouble. Starting January, I will monitor and take swift, unemotional action early. The classroom never needs to dissolve into chaos and my temper is more likely to stay intact.
Reaping the benefits of this new and improved classroom management, I will use the gained time and quiet to help those students who really need me. I will use my regained peace of mind to be patient with them, focusing on their needs.
I will give the speaker a chance at staff development. I won’t just dwell on how this person who inevitably states, “I love teaching. I just don’t do it anymore,” has become too far removed from practical classroom work to tell me anything. I will ignore the fact that this speaker sought a way out of dealing with the kinds of problems I am being told to have patience with. Former teachers can have a lot to offer. Sometimes, the longer ago they taught, the better. Their tricks of the trade haven’t been seen in a while, not by today’s kids anyway. After all, some of my fourth graders think I invented outlining.
I will, in fact, seek out professional development that can help me to better help my needy students who may not qualify for special services, but need something extra all the same. I will go to these in-services with an attitude of being a learner myself.
I will get out the glitter. I won’t shy away from the hands-on projects and activities that involve so much preparation and clean-up. I will let the kids touch and manipulate and create. They are the reason I show up for work and are much more important than visiting in the teachers’ lounge or avoiding the wrath of the custodial crew.
And what about the changes my students need? We change them every day. Hopefully, with these resolutions in place, those changes will be more positive and longer-lasting than a diet that dissolves by Valentine’s Day.