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Turning Off Autopilot: A New Year’s Letter to My Students

By Christina Torres — January 09, 2017 2 min read
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This post is part of an educator campaign to share resolutions for fostering belonging for students in the new year. What’s your resolution? Share with #belong2017 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


My dears,

With the new year, we’ve had some moments to breathe and reflect on the semester we’ve had so far. I feel so lucky that each day we’ve been able to grow, challenge each other, and just learn more about each other and world so far.

But it hasn’t always been easy. We’re all busy, and I know you have lots of different interests and activities you’ve been trying that sometimes make it hard to focus. I totally get it—I’ve been feeling the same. I know we were all looking forward to the moment where we could sleep in, get some rest and have some fun.

Now that I’ve had a little time, though, I’m already thinking about what’s next. As excited as I was to relax this winter break, I have been eager to think about how to make this upcoming semester even better than the one we finished. Here are some New Year’s resolutions I’m making to be a better leader in our class.

I promise to turn off my autopilot and listen more. I’m in my third year at our school, and this is the first time I’ve felt comfortable enough in my job that everything was really planned and ready to go from the beginning of the year. In some ways, that’s been really good—it’s important to know where you want to end up! Still, I think losing some of that spontaneity and joie de vivre I had from figuring out as I went the past few years.

While it’s important that I stay well-planned, I want to make sure I’m not just flying on autopilot—especially when it comes to all of you. I want to make sure I’m listening to your needs as a class and responding to the world around us. I want to make sure I’m giving you what you need. At the beginning of the year, I told you that things were going to get real and to please ask tough questions of me. For that to fully realize its potential, I need to make sure I’m giving you the content and topics you need to ask tough questions about and to push our thinking deeper.

So, I promise to rethink how I lesson plan and reflect each week on how to improve. To create a place where we all really, truly belong, I think that means I need to be a more reflective teacher.

How you can help: Send me any feedback or exciting ideas you have! Do you have an article, book, or journal topic we should discuss? Email it to me! Don’t be afraid to follow up either. Teachers are busy people, just like you, and you have a right to push me to do better.

Anyway, I hope you all have a marvelous, beautiful, joyous, and blessed winter break. I’m so grateful for each day that I get to educate you, and I am so excited to return in 2017, rejuvenated and ready to go.

With lots of love,

Ms. Torres


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The opinions expressed in The Intersection: Culture and Race in Schools are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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