New Year’s Resolutions

New Year, New Semester
The custom of every New Year is to commit ourselves to a resolution. That’s why the gym is so crowded in January. When I wrote my new year’s resolutions for 2010, I made sure I set professional goals, too. One of them was to continue writing this blog.

In the spirit of the New Year, and with the imminence of the new semester, perhaps it is time for all of us to set new goals and make new professional resolutions. Maybe your New Year’s resolution will be to try a new strategy in the classroom.

Monica Edwards
I recently met with veteran theater teacher Monica Edwards, who seems excited about trying something new next semester. Edwards knows her courses well enough that she could teach them blinded, ear-muffed, and barefooted—ok, maybe not barefooted—which is exactly why she wants to try something new. To figure out how she wanted to improve her teaching, Edwards started with a problem: a combined theater 1/theater 2 class with students ranging from OCOS to honors. The strategy she selected to solve this problem is differentiated instruction. She will help students set their own individual goals for assessment, incorporate reflection and self-assessment strategies, and hold conferences with her students. It’s a strategy that will probably feel uncomfortable at first and will require some risk. It’s also a strategy that could help her better meet her students’ vast range of needs.

Start with the Problem
It’s easy, I think, to say we are going to try something new sometime soon. It’s not as easy to actually get started. Try these steps to get yourself going:

  1. Identify one problem you face in the classroom—restless, sleepy or apathetic students, low test scores, slow transitions, low comprehension, inability to apply knowledge, heterogeneous grouping.
  2. Use that problem to help you identify a strategy that might help solve the problem. Keep it simple. Focus on one thing.
  3. Set a date to try your new strategy in the classroom.
  4. Evaluate the strategy, revise it, and try again. If it works, keep it going. If it’s a flop, figure out why.

Here are a few goals you might consider:

  • Add one new piece or technology (CPS, Smart Board, Study Island, PowerPoint, Learn 360) to your repertoire
  • Build a class website to communicate with parents
  • Use cooperative learning strategies
  • Try problem-based instruction
  • Design a new project
  • Use thinking maps or graphic organizers
  • Incorporate writing-to-learn strategies
  • Incorporate reading strategies
  • Use behavior contracts with perpetual offenders
  • Teach students classroom procedures during the first week of school

The New Year is here, but the new semester is not, which means you still have a couple weeks to think about it. If you have a resolution and want help implementing it, contact me. And if you don’t have a resolution for the new semester, contact me anyway. I can help you figure it out. Happy New Year.

Now you can post your comments to I hope you will share your own professional resolutions with our faculty.

One Response to “New Year’s Resolutions”

  1. Lisa Smith says:


    Yet, another great article. It has some great suggestions; many of which are applicable to my life right now both professionally and personally. Thanks so much for doing this blog. I really enjoy reading them and learning from them.