By Brigid Rankowski
Once again, we are at the time of year that brings about so many mixed emotions for professionals in the education field; The beginning of a new school year. The smell of fresh markers, the sight of a completely clean classroom, a desk without piles of paperwork are all soon to be fleeting things as the momentum of the school year kicks things into high gear. For some educators who are taking on new positions or responsibilities this year, there may we waves of apprehension wondering how everything will manage to get done on time. Others who have been in the field for a while may wonder how they can incorporate new ideas into their lesson plans to keep students interested. There are so many different situations going on and everyone is different.
It is in the cold December months that people sit around making resolutions about the next calendar year and things they wish to accomplish. These New Year’s Resolutions are sometimes the only time of year people sit down to analyze their behaviors and make a plan to change things. Since the beginning of the school year is also a new beginning, it is the perfect time to resolve to make some changes for the betterment of yourself and your professional development. Just like resolutions, it is the small steps we take that make the larger change to our lives. Below is a list of examples of resolutions provided by professionals who work in the education field in various ways.
- Take the time to read one piece of material relevant to the professional development of my classroom or job a month. Things move so quickly in the school year, we can sometime blink and it’s winter break. Making the commitment to actively learn more about techniques to improve your professional skills while still in the classroom is beneficial for two reasons. One reason is you may make a stronger connection to the material while you are seeing things firsthand in your job environment. The second reason is you are able to directly apply the work you are learning about to your life without much of a delay. Try looking up books, articles, blogs, or even look at how a certificate program may benefit your career development. There are lots of different resources out there any your place of work may even provide some if you ask.
- Set a daily deadline to finish work by that specific time each night. It’s important to unplug and set boundaries separating your work/home life. It is possible to get so involved with paperwork or lesson plans that you work through dinner or stay up so late that work bumps into bedtime. Setting a time to put away the work allows you to relax more and take care of the things you need to take care of in your personal life.
- Resolve to not be so hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and it is rare for things to be completely “perfect” even when we work really hard on it. It’s important to learn how to take a step back and look at what worked and what didn’t work so we can learn from the experiences. The next time you try, you may end up with completely different results.
- Resolve to not bring your home life to work. Along the same lines of creating boundaries at home, it is important to create boundaries at work. This applies to both the setting directly working with students such as a classroom or in interacting with your colleagues. There are times and places to address your personal life with work friends, but it should never impact your job performance or work relationships. Try to take a few moments before going into work to breathe deeply and cleanse your mind for the day. It’s not that you are avoiding your personal life, it’s that your job and the people you support need your full attention.
- Take the time to look ahead at the future. Summertime is often the time when people give serious reconsidering to their employment options and their career paths. However, if we spend the time to think about what do we want out of our careers during the school year there are many more resources we can utilize. Perhaps scheduling a conversation with the head of a department or your professional mentor can help open your eyes to new job opportunities. You will never know what is out there until you begin to look for new opportunities.
- Understand fully that changes in our students do not happen overnight and there are occasional setbacks. This one is the most important one what talking to my peers in the education field. It can be discouraging when no tangible progress is made for a student, especially when there is a need to document the progress for official records. Change takes time and there are so many factors out of our control as we work to help students become their personal best. There are also occasions when even with the best support, there are regressions in skills or behaviors. Take a second to see if there is something wrong with the support or if there may be another reason for this temporary setback.
You may only have one or two resolutions when you make your own, but they should be tailored to you and what you want to get out of the school year. Look back on what some of the events of the last school year that left an impact on you. Were there some challenges you wish you had handled differently? Was there a professional success you wish to obtain more often? Take the time, before the school year kicks into high speed, to look at where you want to be at the end of school year. Just like we see in our settings, change can happen for anyone if we provide the proper supports. Reach out to your colleagues or superiors to let them know you have some professional goals you want to achieve this year and you may be pleasantly surprised with the support you receive.