Confession: I have never liked New Year’s Eve. Too much pressure is associated with that one night: going to a huge party, dressing in fancy duds, and staying up late. Then, we have the angst over making New Year’s resolutions. Stressful!
For me, the best time to make meaningful resolutions is in the first days of the school year. This timing makes sense for teachers and students, but also for parents who may have more time to think now that their children are back to school. We have had a summer to reflect back on the past academic year and look ahead to the one to come. Starting school means new teachers, new classes, new supplies, new clothes, and most of all, a whole new school year with its amazing potential. Even now after, dare I write it, 40 school-starting Septembers, I still find this time of year just as exciting and full of possibility. It is a perfect opportunity to re-focus and make improvements!
There is something very powerful about writing down a few resolutions in the fall. By putting those positive hopes and plans into words and actually posting them somewhere, they can easily be referred to and you can keep on track with the direction you are hoping to follow for the year. Of course, this is a great exercise for students, too!
In our first staff meeting of this year, all of LEARN’s online teachers talked about trying new things. Everyone was excited to share plans and discuss ideas.
This year, it was our most experienced online teacher who most surprised and delighted all of us with his resolution for the school year. This teacher has been teaching for over 30 years, and has taught online courses for 16 (just in case any of you thought online courses were a new thing!) He has amazing results and every year he receives many notes from his students and their parents, thanking him for the time and effort he gives students to ensure their success. With his stellar history, what motivation would he have for changing the way he teaches?
Well…last year, this same teacher observed changes in teaching methods being embraced by other online colleagues. He witnessed their excitement for flipping the classroom. He watched them using social media to join and form personal learning networks (Twitter) and for students to share with a wider audience (blogs). He saw that they were interacting and learning with students and colleagues outside of the class space, and as he said, “I see how much fun you are having!” Even as a master teacher, he was still open to the excitement and possibility of trying something new that would provide him with more ways to connect to and help students.
My favourite part of being an educator is that I get to start fresh each fall and with each year, I have the opportunity to get better. Why not take advantage of the New Year and identify a few changes or challenges that will make this year a great one for you and your students?
Have you made any resolutions for 2012-2013?
Happy New Year!