Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My "New Year's" Resolutions

It's the "new year" folks! Of course, not really because it's only half way through our year. :) I don't give much credence to new year's resolutions, partly because I don't really do much for the new year. I've never been to a NYE party and this year was the first year I actually stayed up until midnight (with a brief nap between 10-11). My partner and I cooked a romantic dinner and he woke me up so we could spend the new year's together. It was pretty rad (if you will).

But, as I sit here in my empty room the day before my kiddos come back, I think about what's changed for me so far this year and what I want to change this semester.

Here we go! In 2018, I resolve to...

  1. have next week's "plans" completed no later than Wednesday of each week. BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHA am I right? Honestly speaking though, there has been A LOT of talk on the internet waves about planning. Should we even plan? What (in all that is holy's name) is an essential question (really)? If we do plan, what should those look like? How often to we "replan"? etc. It's all led to some great discussions online. Personally, I plan. I work in a group of 5 Latin teachers and we all collaborate and work together. I like to have my plans ready should someone need them in coming years or want to see what I did (which has happened a few times). I also post my plans online for my kids to see. Most don't bother, but those who are absent or who need them find it useful. 
  2. take time for myself. 
    I struggle with this, pretty much all the time. My partner recently said to me that he wants to help me focus and make sure I don't get overwhelmed. I greatly appreciated this and plan to take the fact that he noticed this seriously. This is common in teachers. We have a HIGH burnout rate and we face possible burnout many times in the year. For many of us, especially those who have mental and physical issues, this risk is even greater. I am looking at ways to take care of myself that include some work related things like:
    * standards based grading
    * low-need days like dictatios, R, R, R days, and OWATS
    * working to even further refine my grading and assessment procedures
    * sticking to a strict policy of being on time in the morning and leaving on time in the afternoon. For me, that means arriving by 6:15-6:30 (about half an hour before we are due) and leaving no later than 3:00.

    and... some non work related things like:
    * taking time to care for my hair properly (curly girls anyone?)
    * enjoying my pets
    * reading more
    * enjoying my traveler's journal and the bullet journal process
    * cooking more
  3. take my time.
    I've done a lot of this already. Rachel discussed the importance of slowing down last year and the previous year, Bob and I discussed the importance of really evaluating how we do things and our assessments. I want to do more of this. This last semester I slowed down and went at my kids' pace. Based on their feedback for this semester, I know I made the right decision. I want to do more of this. This includes reevaluating how we are doing things like Free Voluntary Reading and R, R, R days. We were reading a class novella, Itinera Petri. We didn't finish, but MANY kids expressed an interest in continuing to read. I also want to honour the things they chose to read for this year. blog post coming
  4. sleep more.
    Here we go... every teacher's vow. I need it. We all do. One of the things I've discovered this last semester, thanks again to my partner, is that: naps are okay. If I take a nap, I don't need to feel like I wasted time because, it was what my body needed. If my body needs a nap when I get home at 4:00, I'm going to take one. It's better to take a short (26 minute) nap at 4 than it is to fall asleep on the couch at 7 and wake up at midnight. 
  5. enjoy my work more. 
    I LOVE what I do. I really do. That doesn't mean, however, that there are days (maybe weeks here and there) where I wish I could sleep in more (see 5), wish I could work on my house more (see 2), etc. That doesn't make me a bad teacher. What could/might is if I allow myself to get dragged down by the monotonous aspects of work. You know what I mean: the paperwork, the sometimes gratuitous meetings, the early hours, the days where I hear my name every 2 seconds and it is for the same gosh darn question which I not only addressed at the beginning of class, but also wrote on their papers AND on the board.... You get what I mean :). So, I want to enjoy more of what I already love. I want more tasks. I want more discussions. I want to move more. I want more smiles. I want to hear kids say "I can't wait for Latin" every gosh darn day. So, I'm going to find ways to accomplish that with more:
    * QR codes/running dictations
    * Tasks
    * stuffed animals!
    * FUN reading/discussions
  6. listen to more music and podcasts.
    Maybe this could go under number 2. Sure, okay. But it is ALSO professional development. I have my personal podcasts I listen to: food and health, How Stuff Works, story telling podcasts, etc. But, I also have professional podcasts. There are podcasts in my target language (although not many). I listen to those on occasion and I listen to some CI podcasts as well. PBP has started our own CI podcast too. This is a great way to get a little input for myself on the way to or home from work and provides a decent break from the news going on (when I need it). I'd love to add to my list! Comment below with your favourite podcasts! 
  7. reflect more.
    As I write this, I am reading my resolutions to Rachel and this popped up for me: I am being a lot more reflective lately (and in this post) than I have been in the past. We have become very reflective. We reflect on every unit, every assessment we do and I am SO HAPPY with this. I want to do more. I want to share more here and over at Stepping into CI. I know Rachel does too. Bob has always been reflective, and I relish in the fact I benefit from both of their reflections. I want to feel so comfortable with reflections that, if I need to, I can change what I do and how I do it when needed, instead of waiting until the end of the semester. 
  8. avoid toxicity.
    Lastly, and maybe key to each of these, is avoiding toxicity. Rachel and I talk about this all the time. We are members of various online communities and we find value in them all. We also find issues in nearly all of them. So, we want to avoid the toxicity. To this end, I want to suggest a few points you may take to do so, while keeping those positives

    For Social Media
    * edit your notifications - I edited the vast majority of my groups to varying degrees. Facebook allows me to only show the notifications I want: every one, only when friends post, only on things I comment on/post, never at all. I love this feature. I can also choose my favourite groups which appear on the top of my list. That ensures I'm not scrolling through things I don't want to read all the time.
    * keep some social media ONLY personal - for me, this is my instagram which is mostly pictures of my pets and my food. Every once in a while I post something school related that I REALLY love, but for the post part it is only personal. Facebook is a straight up mix and Twitter is mostly school related with some political/personal things mixed in (rare).
    * choose your groups carefully - I am a member of some groups. I am not a member of all groups. At one time I felt the need to be a member of everything, because... well I want to know what's going on! But now, I value my time a little more and I do not want to be overwhelmed with toxicity. Do not feel badly if you decide not to join a group.
    * as a last resort, leave a group - If you feel a group has become toxic. Leave it. Simple.

    For Life
    * eat lunch alone sometimes - I am an introvert. I am very introverted. If I'm not careful, I can isolate myself. That being said, sometimes I need a reset. I love my lunch mates. Sometimes, I need a break from people OR I need to allow myself to reset and get rid of any toxicity I have. Eating alone is okay sometimes.
    * remember, they are teenagers - I am awful at this. I spent many years giving all the value I had in myself over to others. I have spent years trying to undo this damage. I still struggle sometimes. Our kids are just that: kids. Sure, they aren't five year olds anymore, but they are still kids and they say things. Sometimes, a kids' words can become toxic if we give them too much power or if we dwell on them. Having a bad day? Okay, accept that, reflect on it. Give them the same understanding. Oh, that's how you feel? That's okay, I recognise you may feel differently tomorrow or next hour.
    * take time for yourself - Ah, the key mantra. I mean it. We can be our worst enemy. We can be the most toxic in our life if we allow it OR if we don't give ourselves time to be ourselves. Schedule it if we have to. I know I am.
    * find a safe space - Let's face it. Some of us are not in the most supportive environment (for whatever reason). We, as people and teachers, need to have a professional space where we are safe to express ideas and concerns and find solutions to issues. If you do not have one in your physical building -- find one in your teaching friends, even if they aren't in the same school/city/state/country as you; find one online; find one in Professional Learning Groups. The point is: find one. Latin Best Practices has some great tools for building this space (including a checklist for administrators). There are FB groups where you are encouraged to experiment and enjoy. The second point is: be safe. Avoid toxicity and ensure your space is safe. 
So, there you have it! My teaching resolutions. What are yours?

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