By Andrew Pillow
It’s that time of the year again. The time when people make pledges to themselves to do things they wish they did.
I’ll save you the “new year, new me” cliché and just come right out and tell you: I’m not making any promises. This list, is a list of things that I will attempt to do. No more, no less. I’m going to be ambitious about what I want to achieve, but I won’t be naïve about my ability to follow through 100% of the time. Life happens, and I won’t beat myself up about not achieving an arbitrary goal I set for myself on 12/31/2017, and neither should you.
With that being said, even though teaching is hard we should still try to get better every year. What will I be doing to get better starting on January 1st?
1. Grade in a timely manner
I rarely give assignments that need to be graded immediately. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. Feedback is a key lever in increasing student achievement. I typically wait until grades are due to grade. This means I don’t attract the attention of any of my admin as a “late grader”, but I can do better, and I know that.
As luck would have it, I don’t have to wait to do this one. I have grades piling up right now. They aren’t due until tomorrow, but maybe I should start my New Year’s resolutions a day earlier.
2. Contact parents more
I don’t talk to a lot of parents. I genuinely don’t have much reason too. Almost every student passes my class. I also have very few behavior problems. However, this means I should make a ton of positive calls right? Well, I don’t do those. That won’t get me in trouble, but it’s still not okay. Especially because I have some students that do well in my class, but not others; this means the school is likely missing a positive interaction opportunity.
Because I have so many students doing well, I’m going to make 2018 the year of the positive phone call.
3. Help other teachers
I’m not a big team player. I often glance over struggling teachers in favor of doing my own thing. Which there is really no excuse for because teachers helped me when I was new and needed help. I have fallen in love with my routine, and my free time. I need to make more of an effort to offer support where I can.
4. Use my prep time more effectively
I am not one of those people that beleives that teachers HAVE to do tons of work on their prep. The nature of this job necessitates a cool down period after kids leave the room. With that being said, I can certainly do better than checking my fantasy football team for 50 minutes.
This actually coincides with a couple of my other resolutions. Contacting parents, and grading are both things that can and should be done during my prep time.
Again, these are simply, promises to make attempts to be better.
I can’t promise all my grades will be done two weeks in advance.
I can’t promise every single student that performs well in my class will get a positive call home.
I can’t promise you I won’t check my fantasy football team. (After all it’s the playoffs)
But I can do better, and I will try.