Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My New Year's Resolutions

And here we are. Another summer gone. Another school year starting. And let me tell you a little secret...

I'm really, really excited to start school. Not necessarily the professional things we are doing before kids come, but the real school. You know...when the kids come.

As I did last year, I thought I would write down my resolutions for the new year.  Last year I referred back to these many times throughout the year. It kept me on track. Reminded me to keep reading my professional books. Kept me focusing on my quotes.  I felt better about my teaching and my life because of writing them down.

When I look at my resolutions, I don't feel like I did as well as I could have using technology in my classroom.  I wanted to integrate it into units more than I did, so I am keeping that resolution:

1. Teach Web 2.0 tools to my students and ask them to use them to display their learning.
I have learned several new tools this summer and have been writing down ideas for them.  I want to keep this list posted somewhere handy and get this technology into my students hands--starting day 1!

2. Implement new writing ideas learned from Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher.
I read books by both of them this summer--Write Beside Them by Kittle and Write This Way by Gallagher.  The ideas in these books fit well together and I need to be conscious in using the ideas. They both emphasize using personal stories and topics that students are familiar with to increase their confidence in their writing ability.

I didn't do such a great job connecting with my freshmen at the beginning of last year. I feel terrible about that.  It took us a long time to become a community.This year, I am going to spend the first five days connecting with them--learning names, learning about their passions and what drives their lives. Freshmen, especially, need to make those adult connections. We'll complete activities together that will help us learn about each other and how we work. We'll do some writing and sharing. We'll talk about books we like and don't like. But mostly, we'll talk and get to know each other.

And I'm going to show them this video by John Green. If you haven't seen it, take a look. It's worth the watch:


  1. I remember this last year, & it's such a great idea, Deb. All the points you've made are reflecting a teacher who cares, who wants more than the status quo. Of course I already know that about you & am not surprised. Thank you for the John Green-a super wake-up for me this am! Our "real" school begins tomorrow-can't wait! Hope you have a marvelous group in each of your classes & a great start to the year!

  2. Great resolutions. I guess it is a teacher thing to see the start of school as the "real" new year!

  3. First - it's great that you write your resolutions and then review them from time to time - great way to stay on track.
    Second - Love the Connect resolution - I would make that resolution to connect with the students that looked 'disconnected', but it often seemed to get sidetracked or they were so 'disconnected' that I didn't succeed on the level I'd have liked to.
    Third - awesome video - EVERYONE should watch that - we ARE all stupid, working at not being so stupid together.
    Fourth - I want to be in your class for a year. I'm retired. I could just quietly sit in...no...I would work right along with the kids.
    Wouldn't you just love to start elementary school again and go up through the grades doing it with the enthusiasm we'd like to see?

  4. You rock at this thing called teaching. How lucky are your kids to come into your environment and have you to guide them. You have a lot of "I wannabe in Deb's class" out in cyberworld. Great video!

  5. We all do this, don't we? Make "new year's" resolutions? But you are the brilliant one who takes the time to write them down to continuously refer back to.

    I have Kelly Gallagher's book in my book stack, but it will have to wait awhile. I am reading What Readers Really Do right now and it is eating up all my brain space (in the best way possible).

    I love John Green. I love that you are sharing John Green with your students. I might steal your idea. Because I love your teachery coolness.

    1. I love you Christy. You always say the right things.

  6. I love the idea of making new year's resolutions. I will really have to try that out! (I'm pretty sure I bookmarked the ones you posted last year and then never got around to writing them...) "Connect" is my one little word for this year and it has been a good reminder of what's important... and yet so easy to lose sight of. And both of those books are in my "to-read" stack right now but I'm so buried in books I haven't gotten to them yet! Finally, I love how you talked about "focusing on [your] quotes" because quotes have always been effective motivators for me. P.S. thanks for your comment last week where you said I could ask you questions if I need anything -- that was very comforting! :-)

  7. Building community is always such a worthy goal. So glad it made it on to your list of three. Three is attainable. You can do it.

    Have a great school year, Deb. I hope you'll keep us up to date with how it's going.

  8. Deb,
    I am excited by your enthusiasm in the post! I hope you have the best year ever! I watched the video-that guy is intense-but the message will resonate with students-they matter-great way to start of building community.

  9. Love that you are taking five days to get to know your kids. I really wish more of my teachers had done that. I don't remember all of my teachers throughout the years--I remember the great ones. I know that when your students look back, you'll be on the list of great ones for them.

    Also, fantastic video! :)

  10. Love love Penny Kittle and John Green too. Thank you so much. I'm really excited that I am getting to 'include' in a writing class (4th) all year!!!! I decided, and just put it in my day. Today they said, "Do I have to stop writing?" I look forward to you keeping your New Year Resolutions. xo