Resolutions

2016 is just about done.

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions

Calvin and Hobbes because it always fits.

That, as we all know, makes it resolution time. Even if we’re not publicly stating them, we’re making them.

Of course, as teachers, we did this already, back at the beginning of the school year, right? And, well, we’re sort of consistently making resolutions throughout the school year, as a natural part of our reflective process.

I think about resolutions at this time of year. I think about what I want the coming year to be for me personally. I think about some things I’d like to make more time for, or to do better. Professionally, my reality is that I have a few weeks before a new semester, and new courses. I’m setting goals and making plans for them already.

This time last year in social media, the buzzy hashtag revolved around the “one word” idea. In short, instead of drafting the usual statement, or more, resolving to do something, you choose a word that resonates with you. It could be a word that represents a goal, or one that identifies a state of being. As with any social media hashtag thing, it filled the feeds for a few days, and brought its share of detractors.

I liked the idea though. To me, it made the resolution less about doing, or not doing, a specific thing, and more about a lifestyle or mindset. It was simpler to remember, and applied to more than that one thing you wanted to do.

I adapted it for my classroom too. As second semester began, I had each of my students choose a word that would adorn the front of their notebook. We talked about it, and discussed that this was a goal setting activity. I was open with them that I loved them seeing that word regularly, each time they got their notebook to do our work. A constant reminder of a goal they set, or a place they wanted to be as a student. A brief note inside the cover expanded upon their choice.

It wasn’t perfect. No teaching idea ever is. (“Pass,” while a realistic goal doesn’t make for an inspiring notebook cover. And there were some pretty dreadful explanations of choices.) I made some tweaks to start this school year with the same activity. ( Brainstorming words, more structure for the explanation.) I’ve already thinking how I’ll tweak it for next semester. (No explanations on paper, but I move around as they work and talk to them.)

The thing is, it’s a simple activity to start the course off. We talk about goals without setting a million of them. I get a good sense of where they are going into the course, and how they see it going. I encourage that word to be displayed creatively, setting that tone right away, letting them know that we do that kind of thing in my room. They do a thing that’s important in a way that feels like play.

I realized the value of the one word on their notebooks though recently, when a student was kindly getting notebooks for a few students. They simply told him what their words were. No colours, no names, no description, but their words. I loved hearing words like strength, success, create and shine being called out.

Which means as I finish this piece, I just tweaked the idea once more. The one word is all that is on the cover, no names…

Do you do resolutions in the classroom? What do you do? What are yours? I’m pretty active on Twitter @doodlinmunkyboy, and might post 2017’s word, but feel free to comment below to connect.

-Jay

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