Striving for excellence and improvement is a constant uphill battle in all pursuits and nowhere more so than in teaching. So I began contemplating my resolutions for 2010 well before the winter holidays and the dawning of the new year. My essential question was this: What are my goals for improving my own teaching, and ultimately, the learning of students in my classroom and beyond?
The resolution foremost on my mind as 2009 started to draw to a close was my desire to explore more opportunities to share with other teachers, helping one another perfect the craft of teaching. It isn’t about being better at something than others are; it is the collective power of sharing and growing together that makes this goal such an important one. Teachers too often teach and learn in isolation, when we should be constantly thinking about ways to collaborate and grow together. If we can become a true community of learners, we will be much better equipped to guide our students to do the same.
In my own classroom, I resolve to strive to teach every lesson “like first snow, falling,” as poet Taylor Mali would say. Unless I am geeked about the lesson, how do I expect students to get fired up and excited about what they are learning? I need to rejuvenate my own enthusiasm for learning and teaching, finding those key components that get me excited about each and every topic.
With my students, I must seek out their strengths as if each child were my child, looking through and beyond their faults. I must capitalize on their learning energy, making each student feel unique, capable, and extraordinary. For some children, this task will be difficult, almost monumental for me. But I resolve to make this a priority.
I also resolve to focus more on learning, and less on grades—more on students’ growth, and less on their missing the mark of perfection. By learning more about formative assessment and integrating what I learn into my teaching, I can help students become a part of their own growth process as they begin to take individual responsibility for their achievement.
Parents are a critical part of school success, too. I resolve to involve them more and more, impressing upon them the integral partnership of home and school, and supporting our shared responsibility. Reaching out to parents of struggling students, giving them tools to support their child, and encouraging and praising their efforts will empower them and me to help that child succeed.
On a larger scale, I resolve to be active in the world of education reform, helping the voices of teachers to be heard in Washington, insisting that policymakers listen to our concerns and ideas. I will reach beyond the local, into the national arena, speaking loudly myself, supporting others’ voices, and encouraging our decisionmakers to understand that the crisis in education today is a problem we can solve if they will make teachers their allies, and not simply scapegoats.
I resolve for 2010 to be a better year in education, in my classroom, in my building, in my district, and more importantly, across this nation.
I resolve to make a difference.