Editor's Note: Betty Ray, Edutopia's Director of Programming and Innovation, contributed to this post.
With all the research on how unlikely it is that making New Year's resolutions actually works, we wanted to offer something a little more realistic. Here are some teacher-tested ideas for new things to try with your students in five days, five weeks, and five months.
Improve Your Connection With Parents
- Make a positive phone call home. See how you can transform your relationship with parents by calling them with one piece of positive news.
- Connect to your school community via social media. Create a school or class hashtag and invite parents to follow you for informal updates.
- Additional resource: The BIG List of Home-to-School Connections
Use Humor in the Classroom
- Bring the laughs. Lighten up the learning with this handful of teaching activities for kids of all ages.
- Don't take yourself so seriously. See some evidence -- and a few amusing examples -- that a sense of humor is seriously necessary in the absurd world of education!
- Additional resources:
Teach Active Listening
- Try the HEAR strategy. Help students develop their listening skills with this brain-based strategy, including Halt, Engage, Anticipate, and Reply.
- Use one of these classroom ideas in 5 Ways to Get Students to Listen. There are some great ideas in the comments, too.
Bridge a Teacher-Student Gap
- Connect to a student who is fundamentally different from you. Invite him or her to lunch and really listen. You might be surprised by what you learn about the student -- and yourself!
Support Creative Learning
- Provide opportunities for students to create, explore, and make. Start by creating a "Wonder Shelf." Providing math students with manipulatives and art supplies can bring excitement, engagement, and basic elements of a makerspace into the classroom.
Redesign Your Learning Spaces
- Does your classroom need a makeover? See how one teacher is offering 8 Tips and Tricks to Redesign Your Classroom after completely reinventing his space with ingenuity and a handful of volunteers.
- See some classroom makeover examples. How can you set up your classroom to maximize learning? Get inspired with this video playlist of tips and ideas.
- Design a makerspace. Answer the questions outlined in this post to set you on the best course for planning your space.
Help Your Students Set Goals
- These goals should be SMART -- Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Rigorous, and Timely. Use the six steps, and have students interview each other to support them throughout the process.
- Additional resource: SMART Goals Connect a School
Shift Mindsets Around Mistakes
- Teach students to embrace their mistakes. When students view mistakes as healthy challenges, them become more resilient.
- View mistakes as part of the learning process. Consider these nine ways to teach with mistakes, including removing the stigma from error, explaining wrong answers, and helping students see mistakes as growth experiences.
- Don't just embrace mistakes, encourage them! By emphasizing the process rather than outcomes, students can become more courageous learners.
- Additional resource: Three Ways to Foster Productive Failure
Other New Year's Resources from Edutopia
- Habits of Mind for the New Year: 10 Steps to Actually Accomplish Your Resolutions (2013): Vicki Davis points out that a New Year's resolution, at its core, is a new habit, and offers ten steps for identifying and incorporating new habits into our lives.
- A Teacher’s Anti-Resolutions for the New Year (2013): Nicholas Provenzano, with tongue firmly in cheek, lists ten New Year's "anti-resolutions" that he fully intends to break.
- Setting Technology Goals for the New Year (2013): Monica Burns looks to the New Year as a time for reevaluating and improving our relationship with technology.
- New Year's Resolution: Be a SEL Champion for Children (2011): Maurice Elias challenges educators to advocate for social emotional learning at their schools in 2012.
- Resolutions and Reflections Community Discussion: Your fellow Edutopians speak their minds about the year gone by and the year to come.
In the comments below, let us know what you're going to try in 2015 -- and what kind of results you expect.