Five New Year’s Resolutions that top my priorities for a productive and effective year resemble past favorites that either soar from January 1 or flop within a week of resolving to improve my face-to-face learning environment. In fact, one of my resolutions blends face-to-face learning with online learning for high school students.
I Resolve to Keep Records in Order
Remembering to note absences at the beginning of the period seems an obvious task, but getting the class into the lesson through the anticipatory set is often so involved that I forget to cross class to mark the grade book. I resolve to set my students on a simple, low maintenance task that allows me time to take roll and be sure all the important people are in place.
I say “important people” simply to dissipate the cliche so many students still use: “Where is everybody?” I have found that in poor taste. Worse is the other popular comment made in a class of several empty seats, “Nobody’s here!”
Maintaining good records is paramount to ensuring that students are in class and learning and that those who are not receive the proper encouragement to be in class where the learning is occurring.
I Resolve to Emphasize Respect Among Peers
Students need constant, undying attention for themselves and will pursue it at any cost. My second New Year’s Resolution involves my students sense or lack of respect. for themselves and one another. So often, children are told to respect others, but really what they need to do is learn to respect themselves first and foremost.
How are we to respect other if we are unable to respect ourselves? Students who respect themselves are far more likely to keep their places among their peers and watch to treat their peers as they would wish to be treated. Sounds like maybe my resolution is really to reinstate the Golden Rule: to do unto others as one would have done unto one’s self.
Exactly. Students must be trained and encouraged to edify one another in good will, and what better time to set such respect in motion than by resolving as a class to respect one another as one would be respectful of one’s self.
I Resolve to Prepare Students for the State Writing Test
Every sophomore in the Union must take the writing test for his or her state, showing unequivocally that his or her written expression is worthy of a seventh grader. The states’ minimum competency writing tests ensure that it is apparent to anyone who wishes to look upon the results of any child’s writing performance know where a student stands as a writer prior to being graduated from high school.
Each year, this resolution stands to be renewed in good faith for the sake of each of my students, so that I am ready and willingly setting forth the goal of preparing each student to pass the test. This year, in 2011, I resolve quite publicly to cause at least ninety percent of the sophomore class to pass the state writing test. My loftiest, most realistically possible benchmark, given that this class of sophomores–of whom 89 percent passed the English I End of Course exam–comes ready to do so well, I do stick out my neck to say they shall do so well.
I Resolve to Post More Student Work on the Walls of the Classroom
A fire marshal’s wildest dream come true, the walls of my classroom are as bare as the cells of our incarcerated convicts! No adornments whatsoever veil the dull painted bricks in my room, and it is just a travesty to not share the hard work and diligent results of the labor of my students. They strive daily to please me and get their work done–not so much for learning or for my adulation, but more so to keep out of our ingenious homework support room–that it is truly a shame that I do not post more of their successes for their peers to see and for passers-by to view.
I Resolve to Blend Learning More Effectively Between Face-to-Face Lessons and Virtual Online Discussions
A virtual learning environment prepared for twenty-first century learners requires teachers to provide real learning opportunities online rather than simply telling students to visit some video site and watch a static lesson. Blending the learning for today’s student allows for that student to interact and produce online discussion and projects that invite their teachers, peers, and parents to participate fully in the learning process.
At least, that is my personal experience with entering the virtual world for the sake of my students. What good is viewing a power point presentation if a student cannot afford the chance to make one of their own. I resolve to allow students to not only email their homework to me but to also visit interactive sites, those which allow students to create their own learning and share that learning with others, inviting feedback and collaboration.