The beginning of a new year is a time where most turn to resolutions as a way to change their lives for the better. For educators, it generally just means getting back into the swing of things as quickly as possible with the new school term fast approaching. What many of us overlook is the opportunity to use the new year as so many others do: as an excuse to try something new. While your new year’s resolutions should be personal goals, tailored to you, here are a few ideas to get you started at making lasting changes in your career and life for 2015.
Resolution #1: “I will focus less on grades and more on learning.”
A question I believe every educator should be asking is: ‘Am I focusing too much on grades?’ With many innovative movements attempting to throw out grades altogether, the value of the grade is coming under scrutiny. Wherever an educator stands in this debate, taking a second look at the way you measure student performance is a must. If you, like many others, find yourself with endless stress-inducing exams to grade that fail to accurately reflect student achievement, try a new approach that keeps the focus on learning over grades. Learning platforms can help you achieve this by ensuring mastery of competencies and personalizing the learning process for each of your students. Integrating more inquiry and project-based learning is another way to bring new skills into the classroom and re-evaluate your grading process.
Resolution #2: “I will look at technology from a new perspective.”
Instead of asking: ‘What technology can I use today?’, ask the question: ‘What do I want my students to learn today?’ By changing the way you look at technology, you bring the focus on pedagogy over technology, viewing technology as the accelerator for better learning as opposed to the driver. This will open up a number of doors for you and your students as your teaching becomes more goal-oriented towards better learning outcomes. If using a platform like Fishtree, try not to focus on social media or adaptive learning, instead look at the possibilities within of building relationships, learning independently, and mastering competencies.
Resolution #3: “I will use social media for professional development.”
Many educators are regular users of social media, whether for personal use, or for communicating with students. A key question to ask yourself is: ‘Am I getting the most out of social media?’ Many still remain cut off from the world of professional development opportunities open to educators through social media platforms such as Twitter. Begin the new year by focusing on building your PLN, not for the sake of being connected, but for learning purposes. You will not only benefit from the joys of professional growth, your students will undoubtedly thank you for it.
Resolution #4: “I will not stress over planning and preparation.”
‘Am I wasting precious time on planning and preparation and is it causing me stress?’ Educators often ask themselves this question, reaffirming the fact that they are not making the best of their time, nor are they getting the leisure time they so justly deserve. Technology offers a way for educators to focus less on the planning side, and more on the doing side. Try using a learning platform to bring all the relevant resources you need to one location, build your lessons quickly, and create assessments within minutes. Then, start focusing more on making the most out of your class time, and taking more well-needed time out!
Resolution #5: “I will make my classroom more inventive and fun!”
Ever asked the question: ‘Is my classroom an enjoyable place to be?’ While many will denounce the possibility of a ‘fun’ classroom, effective learning hugely depends on the atmosphere within your classroom. In a positive, energetic, collaborative space, students are guaranteed better learning outcomes, not to mention the fact that a more joyful ambiance prevails. By trying new methods like flipped, blended or mobile learning, students are encouraged to take the reigns somewhat and engage in more independent learning and critical thinking. Taking up a new, empowering role as “guide on the side”, educators can bring innovation and fun into the classroom in new, exciting ways. If you’re new to these EdTech trends, begin using Fishtree as an all-in-one solution that facilitates each one easily, and works with other systems you may already be comfortable with.
What are your resolutions for 2015? Share them with us @fishtree_edu!
About the author:
Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.