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Answers To “What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?”

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In June, I asked readers to contribute their responses to the question “What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?”

I’m sorry to be a bit behind in compiling them all in a post, but better late than never :) . I did a similar feature last year, and you can see it at two very popular posts, Answers To “What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?” (Part One) and Part Two: Answers To “What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?”

I also wrote about it in a commentary published at Education Week.

And before I share my “New School Year Resolutions,” I thought I should review what I wrote last year and evaluate how I did. My resolutions were (my Ed Week article shares more details on each of them):

Have more fun

Explain more of the why

Connect with more athletic coaches

Frontload life-skills lessons

Prepare students more to handle challenges to classroom culture

Observe other teachers

I did well on most of those resolutions, and I believe my students benefited.   However, I was less-than-successful in two — the ones on “explaining more of the why” and “observe other teachers.”

On the first, I did do more than I’ve done in the past, and I’ve written about some of those efforts (see Do Students Think Learning About Bloom’s Taxonomy Is Useful? and Helping Students Write Essays). I can do far more, though, and plan to do so this coming year. I’ve written a little about one thing I want to do at “Relevance” & Student Learning. And, as far as observing other teachers went, I was able to observe my teaching partner and co-author of an upcoming book, Katie Hull, but that was cheating a little since she taught the other half of our class in my classroom. I just didn’t make the time to visit other classes.

This coming year, I want to emphasize the “why” more in my teaching and observe more of my colleagues. In addition, I want to put into effect the classroom management strategy for my Theory of Knowledge class that I’ve written about previously.

Here are the new school year resolutions readers submitted. Feel free to share your own in the comments section:

Andy Tyslauon:

I teach middle school science for gr7 & 8 in Lethbridge, Alberta in Canada…
For next year I hope to:
- update and post to my professional and class blog pages on a weekly basis (if not at least a bi-weekly basis)
- work with my team to re-visit lessons and find ways to better engage students to make science more fun, interesting, memorable and practical
- work more collaboratively with my grade level team(s)

Sue Lyon-Jones:

Three things I hope to be doing differently next year:
(because nothing in life is ever certain!)
1) I will be running mixed level, unplugged conversation courses for adults;
2) I will be encouraging students to set their own goals and decide what they want to learn and how they would like to learn it, rather than working to a fixed syllabus; and
3) I will be running courses based on a flexible model which will allow students to join at any point. There will be no formal assessment, and the students will be in charge of evaluating what they have learnt.
Unplugging to this extent will be quite a big step outside my comfort zone, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’m sure it will be good for my development as a teacher

Claudia Swisher:

I teach an English elective, Reading for Pleasure. I need to find a good way to incorporate more talk…more time for students to talk to each other about books. I think I’ll use an online site and require a certain number of responses and posts a week. I plan to show this video of high school students who talk about why they DON’T read…that should start the conversation I think. If I could find a good pre-and post-measure for their reading skills, I’d think about using it. We use surveys now and kids reflect on their growth, but something more could make the case that this class is not a blow-off.

Tom Altepeter:

I’m going to hate less and love more. I’m going to take some punches instead of trying to figure out how to avoid them. I’m going to stand up for what’s right instead of what feels comfortable. I’m going to point the finger at myself until I’ve done absolutely everything I can do to make it better.
O.K. So, I realize that’s four. However, it’s about relationships, reality, and accountability to me. Here’s a link to my brief post I just wrote about this: Endings And Beginnings
Thanks for encouraging reflection.

Ellen Bremen:

A cohort of faculty at my college just had a year-long learning community around curriculum building. One of our discussion topics: The practical ways to remind ourselves of what we want to do differently next term: Three ideas that emerged:
1. Keeping a dedicated teaching journal with ideas.
2. Putting Post-It note reminders on the folder for that week’s lesson.
3. My favorite: Using NudgeMail http://www.nudgemail.com. Set up a free account, pick any date for the “To” (even [email protected]), craft your reminder to yourself, and NudgeMail will send your note on that date.
I used to send myself e-mails to remind me of things I wanted to do differently the next term. Then, I’d search for them when I was putting my syllabus/curriculum together the next term. Now, NudgeMail conveniently sends me those reminders.

Leonore:

I teach college prep writing for both ESL and native speakers, and freshman composition in a community college. Next year, I want to challenge my students with different, more creative assignments to increase their writing output (but without making me crazy with grading!), so more online discussions, and maybe a blog. I also want to improve peer review activities and include more in-class writing and revision. Finally, I need more consistent focus on grammar and mechanics.

Scott Holm:

Great post, Larry. This is an important question to ask yourself every so often. I usually think of it around New Year’s but we all know New Year’s Resolutions often don’t stick. The end of the school year is a great time to do this. The first thing that comes to my mind is to be more organized. I do well when creating lists of things to do, so I can cross them off as I complete the tasks, but I’m just not very good at creating the lists in the first place!

Cassy:

1. I will develop a better system to handle all the papers that fly through my room. After 20+ yrs, I still need to work on keeping it all organized!
2. I will seek out positive people to collaborate with; I will not allow negativity to affect my outlook.
3. I will spend more one on one time with my students, although just about every minute is accounted for. During writing & reading conferences, lunch time, after school, even at evening/weekend events hosted by the school – I’ll find a way to give my kids more of the attention they need and deserve

Aly Tapp:

I’m transitioning back into the HS English classroom after 3.5 years of technology integration coaching (which I will also continue 1/2 time next year). In anticipation of this, I have been keeping a GDoc all year called “Next Year I Will…” Combing through it now, these are my three favorite big plans:
1. Digitize the research process, empowering my students with the tools and processes that they will really use after high school. Transform the experience of the required research paper from dreaded death march into interesting communication of authentic discovery.
2. With parent support, allow high school juniors to build an online digital portfolio that is a meaningful part of their digital identity. Never again ask students to “turn in” a paper. Instead, publish! As a part of this, I can actively teach digital reputation management that extends into far more than just what they write during their time with me.
3. Begin the school year by viewing Diane Laufenberg’s TED Talk. Follow up with an invitation to make mistakes. Mean it.

Nancy Jacobs:

I teach ESL for grades 7-12. Next year I will:
1. Incorporate podcasts as part of my requirements. These can be used for instruction, assessment, class notes (simplified a bit), teaching vocabulary, etc.
2. Do more grammar and writing instruction at all levels.
3. Somehow I need to stress independence to the students-give them the confidence they need to take care of themselves in their classes and not be quite so dependent on me.

Chris Francik:

I’ll be teaching fourth grade again usually. I have several changes that I’ll be making. Hopefully, I don’t overwhelm myself.
1. Limit homework
2. Move traditional/average based assessment and evaluation to a standards-based approach
3. Have students use blogs to write and publish thoughts
4. Move from the guiding focus from me as the teacher to students giving ideas and guiding what and how we will learn together

Eva Pors:

1) Do regular needs-analyses before each topic instead of just doing evaluations on what was good/bad in each topic afterwards. And of course, use them consciously!
2) Systimatically keep focus on each student’s writing proficiency and progress instead of just letting handed-in and graded papers (and all my golden comments with them) end up in a (mental) wastepaper basket.

Ann Jones:

I love this question because each year around April and May I begin my “New Year’s Resolutions.” This year my goals are:
1. Get the kids out of the classroom more often. As a Social Studies teacher – I should be showing students around the community. This year we took one field trip and they had a great time.
2. Create a “tech” center where students can take and post class notes, update the blog, and research. We have limited resources but I think I can snag a few old Apple laptops that have access to internet. This will take away some of my workload – and the students will be more vested in the classroom.
3. Work closely with parents and community members. Bring them into the classroom, update them on class news, etc.
Here’s to a great new year!

Azraelle:

Still got a few weeks of school in my part of the world… but lots of ideas & plans for next term:
Doing more web- based projects with my students (and plan them better).
Convince my colleagues that teaching with new (web)tools isn’t “playing useless games”
Getting my students to read (even) more… though I have to remember that ESL isn’t their only subject
Teach at least once using Second Life
Finish and test my Moodle project (political education)
… and lots more.

Cheryl Walker:

I teach high school English, specifically mixed ability freshman and college bound seniors. I am already working on my changes for next year. The freshman English classes are my focus. I am working on backwards design in a curriculum that focus on targeted reading and writing skills. Once again, I plan on using a formative assessment to see where the students are weak and then build on those areas that need improvement. Differentiation is certainly going to be the key when I have such a wide variety of abilities in one classroom. I am searching away as I write this looking for materials and ideas to reach all of my students.

Nancy Jo Lamberton:

Things to do differently:
1. Form and maintain a library advisory committee.
2. Create an end of the year program video presentation.
3. Create a video presentation for meeting my SMART goals and share it.
I am a K-5 Librarian!

Jen:

As a GT teacher who does a pull-out program in four buildings, I have two goals for next year. The first is to spend time this summer creating pbls that I can share with classroom teachers. This will allow them to challenge my students (and others who are bright but not identified as gifted) even when I’m not able to work directly with them. The second goal is to integrate more technology that will allow students in the various buildings to collaborate.

Suzan:

Well,…following a period of self reflection on what did and did not work during the 2010-2011 school year, I will be working on redesigning my class web page in preparation for the 2011-2012 school year. I will be adding even more technology (yes, I am fortunate enough to have a Smart Board in my classroom) focusing on student collaboration and communication, project based and self directed opportunities for learning and continuing the cultivation of global citizenship. My goal is to match each student based on their individual needs to the best platform available to access and capitalize on new technology and use the ever expanding universe of free online learning opportunities in the digital commons.
LOVE your web site and will be definitely be using some of your remarkable resources to fortify my curriculum for next year!

Ajarn jp adams:

Great resource website Larry. I am retired but teach quite often here in Thailand and next year I will continue to make an effort to improve my spoken Thai. How differently…I will work much harder at it than I have done so far this year!

Tom:

I will be teaching Algebra 1 at high school level.
#1 add more feedback through assessments and student mini-conferences to increase the effectiveness of my SBG.
#2 flip my classroom: student homework will be to study online notes and watch skill learning videos. Class time will be more focused on practice, adding depth and exploration of math concepts.

Thanks to everyone who contributed! And, remember, you can still add your thoughts in the comments section of this post…

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

7 Comments

  1. First, Larry thanks for all you do. One of my goals is to have a blog that’s as helpful as yours.

    The other big two are:

    *More student-directed learning (more individualization, more choice, etc.)

    *Find a way to gather data that proves the technology I use in my classrooms increases achievement.

    Not exactly sure how to do that, but we’ll see!

    Best of luck on the new school year to one and all!

  2. Pingback: Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… - Answers To “What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?” | Διδασκαλία με τη βοήθ&eps

  3. Hi Larry,

    Your blog is a great resource bank for me. Thanks for all your sharings.

    Next year I’m planning to spend more time for my professional and class blogs. Also I am going to start working at one of the qualified universities in Turkey. Lastly, I promise I am going to read more (hopefully) :)

  4. Pingback: Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… - Answers To “What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?” | TeachingEnglish | Scoop.it

  5. Hi Larry,

    Just posted a link to this on the TeachingEnglish facebook page if you’d like to check for comments.

    Best,

    Ann

  6. Thank You for helping bring these subjects to light. There are a lot of children growing up around us with no life skills and no motivation to learn them. At Arise Foundation, we teach the teachers and group moderators how to teach and enable today’s children with the Life Skills Lessons they will need for tomorrow.

  7. I post Essential Questions lately on my whiteboard where they are easy to see. Yes, they’re for the students, but they help me make full circle on the concept instead of leaving it dangling. Next year my goal is to post the ES every day.
    Also:
    -more student blogging, they like it!
    -more student self assessments
    -less group/collaborative work; it’s overworked throughout the school.
    -more autonomous, constructive projects. Once or twice a year is not enough.
    -more real-life activities
    -more interviewing opportunities where students can meet community leaders

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