With the New Year right around the corner, it’s time to reflect, reset, and get ready to return to the classroom after a (hopefully) relaxing holiday break. To help start the New Year on the right foot, here are 8 teacher New Year’s resolutions to consider.
Between shorter days and that dreaded mid-year slump, this time of year leaves many teachers exhausted—and some feeling burned out. If that sounds like you, these teacher New Year’s resolutions might be what you need.
Some New Year’s resolutions feel like they’re adding more to your already busy plate (as if teachers need that). However, the following teacher New Year’s resolutions will ensure a productive start to the new year filled with positive vibes and student success. Better yet, these resolutions are perfect for promoting your well-being, too. (Yes, please.)
Read through this list and simply take what you need. Choose whichever teacher New Year’s resolutions will help you make the best of this new year in your classroom and beyond.
1. Commit to a Better Work-Life Balance
This New Year’s resolution always lives at the top of every teacher’s list: better work-life balance. Remember, the time you spend in your classroom, at school, or planning lessons and grading assignments does not equate to your value as a teacher. Balance begins with boundaries. Set clear boundaries around your time and expectations. For example, if you don’t want to respond to emails after 6 pm, set and communicate that boundary. No matter how much you love your students or your job, you must remember the other people and parts of your life you love too.
The hardest part about achieving more work-life balance is figuring out how to do it. Luckily, the rest of the resolutions on this list can help pave the way.
2. Get Comfortable Saying “No”
Speaking of boundaries, let’s talk about the importance of saying “No.” Teachers tend to be people pleasers. But that doesn’t mean we have to be willing to serve everyone all the time. Teachers often feel pressured to take on more and more responsibilities. We often say yes out of guilt, fear of letting someone else down, desire to help our co-workers, being there for the students—the list goes on. However, always saying yes is a recipe for burnout.
Before you say yes to a new responsibility, ask yourself the following questions:
- What does my gut say?
- Is this a commitment I want to take on?
- How much time and energy will this require? Is it worth it?
- Do I have time to commit to this?
- What will I have to sacrifice to take on this new commitment?
Remember, one of the keys to achieving work-life balance is learning when (and that you can) to say “no.”
3. Focus on What Matters Most for Student Success
The New Year is the perfect time to hone your focus on things that will move the needle of student success. While it’s easy to feel like you have to squeeze a million things into each lesson, ask yourself: what matters most for student success? If you’re already tight on time, do you really need to revamp that lesson from last year? Do you need to personalize that online resource—or is it fine just the way it is? Do you really need to pretty up that handout—or is the information perfectly relevant and engaging? Do students need another homework assignment? Are you providing feedback because you feel like you have to or because it will actually benefit students?
As the New Year approaches, resolve to focus your time and energy on the aspects of planning, teaching, and grading that will benefit your students the most.
4. Work Smarter, Not Harder
In the New Year, vow to work smarter, not harder. A big part is learning how to maximize your time regarding everything from lesson planning to grading. I’ll start by saying this: we are lucky to live in a world with many teaching resources at our fingertips (thanks internet!). However, we often waste time trying to reinvent the wheel. Here are some of my favorite ways to work smarter, not harder (and still be a great teacher):
- If you don’t have hours to spend (or want to) planning and adjusting a lesson, borrow one online. It doesn’t make you a lousy teacher.
- Need to grade an assignment? Ask yourself if students could grade it themselves. Not only does that save you time, but it’s also a great learning experience for students.
- When planning lessons, consider streamlining your planning by creating daily or weekly routines-–it’ll cut your planning time way down.
- Plan units by thinking of the desired results first. This backward-design approach will ensure you’re planning purposeful lessons and assignments.
Teacher New Year’s Resolutions to Try this Year
5. Return to Routines
You’re not the only one who loosened up on routines before the holiday break—it happens. However, the new year is perfect for resetting classroom routines. Vow to make routines a priority in the New Year. Reinstate old routines, reflect and revamp them, or set up new ones altogether. Regardless, returning to routines in the New Year will lead to many benefits, including:
- Increasing productivity for you and your students
- Providing clear and consistent expectations
- Elevating focus and engagement
- Streamlining lesson planning
- Improving classroom management
However, if your routines are starting to feel a little stale, don’t be afraid to shake things up. Set up new routines. Remember, it’s not about following some magical set of routines. Instead, it’s about setting up routines that support learning and success for your students. However, if your routines are starting to feel a little stale, don’t be afraid to shake things up.
6. Make More Time for You
Teachers tend to put the needs of everyone else over their own. However, teacher self-care is a must, especially if you want to achieve that coveted work-life balance. Carve out time each day to do something for you. Dare to be a little selfish this year. (Yup. I said it.) Taking time for yourself will help you better manage the daily stressors of the job. There’s no set time you need to carve out for self-care, but I suggest at least 30 minutes a day if you can. As for what to do during that time, do whatever would light you up most:
- Read a book—for pleasure
- Listen to music
- Go for a walk
- Go to a yoga class
- Watch your favorite show
7. Revamp Your Space
Your physical space can impact your mental state—and there’s nothing worse than showing up to a space that fills you with dread. A cluttered desk. Piles of papers reminding you of grading you have yet to do. You get the picture. Besides, research literally shows that an organized space increases productivity. So, it’s time to declutter for the sake of productivity for you and your students. That doesn’t mean spending hundreds of dollars on a classroom makeover. Instead, try the following:
- Ditch the piles of paper and ungraded work—and only grade what you absolutely must. (If it’s been sitting there for weeks, does it really need to be graded anyway?)
- Set the mood with lighting and music. Bring a Bluetooth speaker and string up some lights for a relaxing coffee shop vibe.
- Celebrate your students by hanging up their work
- Purify the air with a plant or two. English Ivy, Pothos, Aloe, or a Snake Plant would make the perfect classroom plant.
8. Give Yourself Grace
Repeat after me: “I’m a great teacher. I’m doing the best I can.” Most teachers I know hold themselves to extremely high standards. We’re always going the extra mile, giving up our lunches and prep time to meet with students and planning fun and engaging lessons late into the evening. Yet, it never feels like it’s enough. There’s always another lesson to plan or paper to grade. *Sigh.*
Resolve to give yourself grace this new year. Tell your inner critic you are doing a mighty fine job. Tell imposter syndrome where to shove it. You deserve to focus on all the things you are doing well. On all the progress you (and your students) have made. Show up each day as the best teacher you can be, and you and your students will be just fine.
A Final Word on Teacher New Year’s Resolutions
I know New Year’s resolutions can feel a bit cheesy. However, new year or not, there’s nothing wrong with vowing to take strides toward your goals. With that said, I hope these teacher New Year’s resolutions inspired you and reminded you that this is a brand-spankin’ new year filled with possibility!
Choose whichever ones speak most to you and stand by them—and let these resolutions help you kick this new year off with a bang. From my classroom to yours, happy holidays and cheers to the New Year!