The Educator’s New Year’s Resolutions: 2016 Edition

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 -- Scott Sterling

Every year, I like to provide some New Year’s resolution ideas for educators, in case they haven’t had the time to consider their own. The list runs from the obvious to the wacky to the practical, but it always provides an opportunity to reflect and evolve as teachers.

Familiarize yourself with ESSA

President Obama recently signed the successor to No Child Left Behind, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), into law. It is large, sweeping legislation and way too much to cover in this paragraph, but it’s important for teachers to be familiar with the law that will govern a lot of what happens in their classroom (and who is responsible for it).

Become a master of one edtech tool

Technology in education is growing at a breakneck pace. So many new ideas are coming into the space that it’s hard to keep them straight. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. Instead, pick one technology tool that can have a transformative effect on your practice and master it. That might be presentation tech, formative assessment strategies, ways to go paperless, flipped learning, etc.

Give students more choice

For all of the trendy tricks and strategies out there, nothing is more transformative in the classroom than working toward a student-centered learning environment, especially by giving students more choice in how they learn. It drastically improves engagement and activates the various learning styles you may have in your class. Start small, but with every lesson plan ask yourself, “How can I give the students more control over their tasks?”

Create one audacious lesson or unit

Complacency is the enemy of the career educator. It leads to boredom or, worse, burnout. This year, commit to coming up with one lesson or unit that is truly audacious and outside of the box. Don’t let funding (you can always crowdfund or find a grant), time, or fear get in the way. The goal of this lesson should obviously be to educate your students, but you also want it to be something they will remember fondly forever.

Don’t get bummed out by politics

Just in case you haven’t heard, 2016 is a presidential election year. As our political process devolves into something resembling a reality TV show, it can become toxic to anyone’s mind set. Yes, stay informed and vote responsibly. But don’t get so wrapped up in every sound byte, breaking headline, and minor scandal that you become frustrated.

One of the best ways to set goals for the future is to reflect on the past. Looking to start your own list of education-related resolutions for 2016? Brainstorm some great ideas by taking a look at our Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015!