Let’s Talk Resolutions
Resolutions are the hallmark of the New Year. There is something about starting fresh in January that feels really great. Most of the time, I stick to resolutions in my personal life, and don’t worry too much about my professional life. A few years ago, when I was starting to feel burnt out, I knew that had to change. I started making resolutions in my professional life and worked to make some big changes. So far, personally, it’s been a huge success. Here are three of my resolutions for the new year.
Don’t Just Make Goals
Before we get started on the resolutions, let’s talk about Goals. Goals are great, but without a plan and a path to get there, they will be nothing but a disappointing failure later on. When we structure and write IEP goals for students, we clearly know where the student is (using data), where they need to be (with data), then we make a path to get them there (again, with data!). It’s important we take the same approach to our goals in our professional life. Maybe you want to gain a certification or endorsement. Perhaps you want to start small groups or center rotations. Streamline data collection, train your paraprofessionals, get some additional training for yourself – whatever the goal is, create a path to get there. Take inventory (data) of where you are, where you want to be, then WRITE IT DOWN. Schedule time each week or each month to see if you are on track to meeting your goals. Really, flip the goal writing and monitoring from your students to yourself. And don’t skip the reflection piece! That’s a huge piece of staying motivated.
Resolution 1: Grow
I love to grow and learn, so this resolution is a fun one for me. My resolution is to make more time to grow, professionally and personally. Here are some of the ways I’m planning on growing professionally this year:
- The Autism Helper’s Membership – this has a bunch of training videos that are 5-15 minutes in length each month that allow me to quickly get in some professional development on my prep, at lunch, or before/after school. I can even watch them with my paraprofessionals and knock out staff training! PS – if you are interested in joining, the membership opens up this month! Don’t miss it! And be sure to ask your admin to pay for it – you’d be surprised at how many say yes!
- The Autism Helper’s Summer Course – The last few summers I’ve taken time to take the courses offered by Sasha and they have been outstanding. I’m looking forward to this summer’s course.
- Reading List – I always have a stack of books on my nightstand that I want to read, but I had a hard time squeezing in professional reading. I started reading a professional book for just 10 minutes a day, Monday – Friday, last year and it was a game changer for getting in professional reading. Plus, one of the perks of being a part of The Autism Helper’s Membership is that you have exclusive access to a bookclub. We meet a few times per book and read one book a semester, so it’s not overwhelming. Last bookclub meeting Kate Swenson, author of Forever Boy: A Mother’s Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy joined us on our video call!
- Observe my peers – I once had an administrator who told me that I could solve just about any problem with the knowledge of the peers around me. I love watching other teachers and getting fresh ideas. My goal is to observe one peer over my prep each month for the remainder of the school year. That’s 5 teacher observations. I’m super excited to see my colleagues teach!
Resolution 2: Manage Time
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that ‘everyone gets the same 24 hours a day, it’s what you do with it that matters’. As my own kids have grown up, I’ve started to realize how true this is. I used to seek my quiet time at night when they were all asleep, and looked forward to bedtime around 7:30-8:00 ever night. How things change! At 18, 15, and 13 my kids are now night owls. Now, I’m up at 5am, stay off my phone until 7:30am or so, and get my exercise in first thing. It’s a chance for me to clear my head, get a plan for the day and look at how I need to divide my time. Keeping a list of what needs to get done helps me prioritize my time. I’ve also started setting a time and work without checking my phone (or the texts that pop up on my Mac!) during that time. Giving myself uninterrupted time to work has increased my productivity significantly. Even 10 minutes goes a long way.
Resolution 3: Be Present
This one flows over from my personal resolution. My oldest son is a high school senior this year, and I can tell you that the older your kids gets, the fast time feels like it’s going. I’ve made more space for things like impromptu ice cream dates or grabbing coffee with him because I know that our time to do those things is coming to an end. I’ve started to view my time with my students in the same way. Sometimes I get so caught up in all the data collection, the teaching, the centers and groups, IEP writing, etc. that I MISS the moments in my classroom to connect with my students and have fun. Right before break I sat on the floor and just played with my students. It had been a long time since i had done so and it made a word of difference. I let students climb on my lap and sit with me when I’m writing an IEP or working on lesson plans. I have a resolution to be more present with each student this semester, and I’m excited to see where that brings our relationships and classroom family. Even if it means just sitting and coloring with a student or pushing in and playing with a student!
Resolutions Don’t Have to be Big
In fact, sometimes it’s the little changes that make the biggest impact on our day to day lives. I’m excited for these resolutions and to see the accomplishments and relationships grow over the next year. Do you make professional resolutions? If so, I’d love for you to share them with me in the comments! Happy New Year!