I don’t know about you, but around this time of year I start planning my New Year’s Resolution. I know it’s a little early, but I take the concept of resolutions very seriously. It’s not just some vague promise I make to myself to exercise more or eat a salad once a week. I want to improve, I want to get better, and as every teacher knows, true growth takes time, hard work, and planning.
Setting the Stage
This might sound a little intense, but I personally find it exciting. There’s a deep sense of wonder which accompanies a big, year-encompassing goal. I could learn a language. Travel to another country. Become an expert (ok, passable) chef! Sure, it might be difficult, but what if I succeed?
That same tremendous sense of possibility can also occur when you’re mapping out the next half of the school year. You’ve met your students and everyone has found their rhythm. So, what will you do when the holidays are over? You could help the class surpasses your expectations. You could make a difference for a student that makes an impact in their world. It could happen!
Bring You’re A-Game
Here’s the thing though, all that potential will mean nothing if you never follow-through. So put your game face on teachers and make it your best year yet. What does a teacher’s game face look like? Here are five elements that are non-negotiable. Extraordinary teachers do them every day!
- Focus on learning instead of teaching. When you’re planning your lessons, think about how much attention you give to what you’re going to say, read, and show. Are you giving as much attention to how you’ll know that they really learned it?
- Connect with each of them – including the ones that aren’t your favorites. It’s easy to connect with some kids, harder with others. But every human has something uniquely special about them that you can recognize and celebrate. Find that something. Nurture it.
- Value questions as much as answers. You want a healthy respect for curiosity and a thirst for knowledge in your classroom. Make sure you reward thoughtful questions as much as accurate answers.
- Expect nothing less than excellence. If you don’t think they can achieve excellence, then they won’t. Change your instruction, your approach, your timeline, but not your expectation.
- Be vulnerable. The best teachers don’t know all the answers. Nobody does. But only the strongest people can admit it comfortably and relish the opportunity to learn. If you show your vulnerability, they’ll relate to you, appreciate you, and strive to meet your expectations.
A New Beginning
Perhaps you won’t accomplish everything you set out to achieve, and that’s alright. Even elite athletes don’t succeed %100 on the field every day. But we still owe it to ourselves and our students to aim high and leap even higher. It’s exhausting, but it’s what the job requires. Besides, when you choose to shoot for the stars, you occasionally catch one!