A new school year means the chance to start over and improve my teaching craft. New students walk through the doors who have never met me before and I get to opportunity to start afresh. In doing this, I realize every year just how terrible of a teacher I must have been the year before. It’s not that I tried to be a bad teacher on purpose, but the experience and wisdom I gain each year sticks with me and I learn not to repeat my past year’s mistakes. Teaching is an art form, not a science, which is why every year is a new learning opportunity. Therefore, my new year’s resolution is always to grow as a teacher and become even better for my future students.
This is now my fifth year as a teacher and boy when I look back I can’t even recognize the teacher I was in my first year. I was so focused on preparing good lessons and so busy with creating materials that I didn’t have time to monitor so many other aspects of the classroom. I “delivered” content, sure, but not in any way that my students wanted. Nor could I adapt my teaching to the many different students I had each class period. I only had a one-size-fits-all approach and a very awkward delivery as a fresh-out-of-college newbie. Luckily since then, I have grown tremendously and found my personal teaching style.
Now in my fifth year, classes have started out on a much more positive note. I spend much more time engaged with students and ready to adapt to their needs. Outside of teaching, I analyze my grades to learn more about who my students are as learners and also keep in close contact with parents. I ask my students’ opinion all the time and take a genuine interest in their personal lives. I know that all of these things support the success of each individual in my classroom. In fact, they’re more important than the actual content. So the transformation from my first year teacher self to now is like a complete 180.
Yet regardless of how far I know I have come, I know that there will never be an end to my growth. It’s my job as a teacher to stay relevant to my kids. That’s why I spend the summer reading new research and then planning how to apply it to my lessons. This year, for instance, I have completely overhauled how I get students to track their own learning and give them options for practicing the content. For every new adjustment I make, there is an implementation and then follow-up process so that I can fine-tune it even better the next year. The same goes for every new tech tool I try out or every new unit or lesson I deliver. I need to stay current and keep my students engaged, which means making regular updates and improvements. This is the nature of teaching and why I resolve to continue in my learning every year.
Ultimately, the best thing I can do for my students is be the lifelong learner I want them to become. So, this year I vow to be a better teacher for these students than I was last year. And so far, I think it’s working.