New [School] Year Resolutions

The effects of the warm sun on my skin are starting to fade and my internal clock is ticking down the moments, which means one thing: a new school year is approaching. That realization may bring feelings of overwhelming anxiety for some educators who, already feeling the stress of the assessment calendar, are chanting: “Not another thing on my plate!”

For me, however, this is a perfect time to set resolutions for the new school year.

Resolution #1: Do Something New

Novelty brings a unique energy and inspiration to the curriculum and to life in the classroom. Start with something as small as a new icebreaker or warm-up activity to grab the interest of your students. Stretch a little farther by infusing a new activity or game into an existing lesson plan that was classically dull.

Think big. Plan a new unit to support your curriculum. Apply for an education grant to fund the needed materials.

My application of New [School] Year Resolution #1: Plan a spring field trip that will create a connection between my band students and a piece of music they will be studying and performing.

Resolution #2: Congratulate Others

A fellow teacher who was receiving a distinguished school district award was afraid to share the news with staff members because some had mocked her for being recognized for her accomplishments in the past. So, this teacher kept the news to herself and celebrated alone. As crazy as this may sound, it is often the case. Why do we cut each other down when one of us succeeds at doing what we all want to do: help our students?

If we say we want the best for our students, we also are saying we want the best for other teachers. Let’s use each other’s strengths and accomplishments as personal inspirations and aspirations. Our kids deserve the best from every teacher.

My application of New [School] Year Resolution #2: Read the memos from administration and write congratulatory cards/notes to other staff members. Thank them for doing a wonderful job.

Resolution #3: Seek Knowledge

When did learning become a chore? I’m amazed when I hear teachers say they are attending a class, workshop, or conference because they “have to” in order to maintain their teaching certificate. We promote the importance of life-long learning to our students, so why don’t we want the same for ourselves?

Read professional literature and join book studies that will improve your teaching craft. Participate in credited/non-credited coursework. Attend and enjoy workshops and conferences that will inspire your inner teaching passion.

My application of New [School] Year Resolution #3: Attend and apply to present at the Association of Middle Level Education’s Annual Conference.

Your turn: What are your New [School] Year Resolutions?

Amanda Kline is a veteran instrumental music teacher at Boonsboro Middle School in Washington County, Maryland. She presented at the AMLE2014 Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Published in AMLE Magazine, August 2015.