Beyond the




Here's a Dozen Things Your ELL Student Wishes You Knew About Them

5 Verbs to Set You Up for Success in the New Year

One of these bright ideas will give you the fresh start you're looking for this year.

There’s a million and one things you’ve probably resolved to do at the start of the New Year. But I’ve found that besides resolutions, there’s a few other “R” verbs that are foundational to teacher success. Find which one resonates with you those most this year, (first—resolve to scale back from trying to succeed at everything this year) and embrace it as your goal for 2019.

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Along with your other new year’s resolutions, consider taking what you learned as a teacher last fall, or in a professional development seminar, and make a list of new things to try as an educator. Prioritize and make your implementation plan.

Further reading: Prepare for the Return from Break


If you have a work day at school before the break ends, don’t look at it as an interruption to your vacation, but rather a time to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Something as simple as taking out the trash can do that. Also, discard old, worn out stuff. Look at ways to streamline grading, paper shuffling, and assignment distribution. Here’s a few ways to do that:

  • Use the large, milk carton-style containers to hold hanging file folders with each kid’s name on it.
  • Have an inbox on your desk for submitted assignments.
    • If you teach more than one section, color code the folder boxes and assignment boxes. This should not be a personal filing cabinet for the student. Make sure you remove and discard assignments left in the return folders. This prevents students from using other students’ work. 


Look at your three most difficult units you will teach in the spring. Change it up. Focus on the students doing the heavy lifting. Keep in mind you want them to explore, learn, and engage themselves, so here are some ways to change your role from being an instructor to being more like a mentor or guide:

  • If Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) techniques are appropriate, use them.
  • If each student at your school has access to a computer, look for online games, simulations, or learning centers like Khan Academy.
  • If your students have a hard time taking notes, use Cornell Note Taking as a guide. You can even create simplified templates with your school logo or mascot to personalize it. Teach the students how to use it and refer to it daily.
  • Look for mnemonics that help students. For example, use the GUESS method to solve math problems.

Reach Out 

Join a local Civil Air Patrol Wing as a teacher member. I’ve really enjoyed my experience doing this, and you gain access to a wealth of free STEM activities for all ages.

Additionally, you could check with your local fire, police, airport, and other local government agencies to see if they have programs for educators. The more you know about the world, the more you can relate your experiences to students. Remember: You want to leave them in awe of your exciting life!


Downtime is essential for your own health, yet this is one of the hardest things for teachers to do. So not only should you make it a bigger priority, but use this time to something new.

Try indoor rock climbing or archery. Never put on a pair of skis? Maybe this is the year to finally get an introductory lesson in cross country skiing. The idea is to challenge yourself in a new way. Remember it doesn’t take more than a day to just explore someplace you haven’t been before, such as a nearby cave.

Further reading: 5 REALISTIC Ways for Teachers to Get Healthier This Year

Whatever goal you take on this year, aim to excel at it, rather than taking on several small goals that you only succeed at part way. You’ll be a great example to your students and colleagues and set everyone up to have a great year!