2014 Resolutions … or are they really goals?

So it is a NEW year, 2014! As tradition most people make resolutions for the new year.

What is a resolution anyway? As defined by Websters: 

  1.  the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something
  2.  an answer or solution to something
  3.  the ability of a device to show an image clearly and with a lot of detail

Usually our New Year’s resolutions don’t fit any one of these categories. Mine typically have been simple statements, based on perceived  areas of weakness to foster improvement. Examples of past resolutions have been: Exercise more, Loose weight, get organized etc.  Seems that too often these generic resolutions fail. Oliver Burkeman does a good job explaining in this Newsweek article. Resolutions in general seem like a good idea. We reflect on our weaknesses and resolve to fix them. The problem is that many resolutions are vague, give us no plan but to just change and don’t hold us accountable. Most people just give up on the forgotten resolutions by February moving on with life as they knew it. “Can’t teach and old dog new tricks!”

I resolve to give up resolutions! If we can’t keep them then why make them? Instead I am setting goals.

Defined as – something that you are trying to do or achieve.

Goals seem more focused and measurable. Instead of resolving to get in shape. A goal would be to work out 3 times per week. Goals are measurable and often don’t give individuals a sense of failure. Goals help us focus on the process of achievement not the end result. This year I am setting goals and seeing how I do. Not making resolutions that I can’t keep.

My 2014 goals:

1. Writing more meaningful blogs that reflect my teaching – Over the past year I doubled my blogs output. I noticed that many of my posts are reflective but I need to add more examples from my classroom. Sharing what is working for me and what is not. This will allow others to see what I am doing and allow me to reflect on my teaching later.

2. Collaborate with other teachers – I need to make connections for my students outside of our classroom. I plan to use technology tools to allow us to reach out and collaborate with other fantastic classes around the world. I hope next year to see blog entries about lessons that reach out into other classroom. Also stories about lesson that were shared between teachers.

3. Create more exploration lessons- Students learn my exploring ideas not by just being presented them. I need to do a better job of creating lessons that give student time to explore the standards. I have been lucky enough to see Gary Abud present on Modeling Science instruction. I hope to take the time and explore it more for my students benefit.

4. Eliminate the fear of failure in my classroom- Failure is where the growth occurs. Nobody learns by being successful. When you are successful you gain a feeling of: “I got it!, I don’t need to learn more!” I feel a vital part of this goal is a move to standards based grading. My 2015 I plan on using a system of grading that helps student focus on their failures to grow.

5. Take care of myself- I often forget about my health and well being. I need to make sure I am here for my 3 children as well as every student that walks into my classroom. I can’t give them my best if I am not healthy. Exercise is my weakness. I neglect myself often to help others. I need to dedicate time to take care of my body as well as mind. (This blog helps the mind too bad I can blog for my body as well.)     Been seeing the awesome #500in2014 challenge on Twitter and wish I could run, unfortunately my body can’t handle running, need to walk 500 miles in 2014.

Goals are written, Now I need to check back frequently, see if I measure up and adjust as needed.

Did you set 2014 resolutions/goals?

Hold yourself accountable by posting them and reflecting. Don’t be stuck in the rut of forgotten or blown resolutions by mid-year.

Here is to an awesome 2014!!

Reflections on 2013 Resolutions

As I sit at home on New Year’s eve sipping on an Cabin Fever Brown Ale:

I am think about how I want to improve my teaching over the next year.  There are so many areas of which I can improve. Using more Project Based Learning in my classroom. Move my science instruction to the Modeling approach. Incorporate more technology and choice into lessons. …. The list could go on and on. As a connected educator I have been exposed to so many great teaching ideas, and avenues to explore. There isn’t enough time in a year to accomplish them all.

Focus is essential for all educators. The methods I use are not important, the LEARNING that goes on in my classroom is the vital component.

So how did I do with my goals (Resolutions)  last year? Good thing I have been blogging that long, I can go back and check my 2013 resolutions. A great benefit of blogging and posting on social media is that you can look back and reflect on whether you keep up with your intentions. (Hey I figured out why so many post their workouts on twitter)

By my account I did pretty well with my resolutions this past year.

1. Stay Positive: This is hard for me. More often than not I have been the pessimist in the room. I used to always look at why things couldn’t work. Over the past year, I have been more positive at work. (Need to work on this in my home life more.) Evidence can be shown in my relationships with peers and my Twitter chat. (#mschat)

2. Expand PLN: Well this has happened. I have connected with so many wonderful educators over the past year. Twitter has been a force in my life to help me focus on the positive in education.

3. Use more Formative Assessment in my classroom: I feel that I use more formative assessment today than I ever have. I am constantly using tools that help me measure where students have needs and then use the results to adjust my teaching. The Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators project has been the best PD I have been apart of in my teaching career.

4. Lead by example: Everyday I have thought about how my actions affect all that can see them. I am constantly aware of the example I set as a leader in my district. No one is perfect but I strive for perfection everyday. Over the past year I hope my example has impacted others in positive ways.

5. Blog More: Last year at this time I had written 53 posts. This year I have upped the number to 160. SO 107 posts over the past year. Not bad, doubling my blogging over the year. Hopefully my posts have helped others, and improved my teaching. I feel writing down the ideas has had a great impact on me as a reflective teacher.

Before my “break” from teaching is over I will have to set new resolutions/goals for the year.  Hopefully I can keep up with them as well as I did over 2013.  Wishing you all the best. Enjoy what the NEW YEAR Brings!!

2013 Resolutions

So it is a New Year! I have high hopes for 2013 as a professional educator. I have decided to post my resolutions for all to see to help me stay focused on the ideas and changes that I feel are important for this new year.

1. Stay positive: If I am going to make changes I have to focus on the positive and let the negatives lie where they are. I can give in and become an “energy vampire.” There is so much negativity surrounding the education profession today, it is easy to get sucked in an allow it to affect your teaching and you personally.

2. Expand my PLN: This past year of being a connected educator has helped me grow exponentially as an educator. I plan on continuing, I don’t think I could ever go back to being on “an island” alone with issues. Twitter, blogging, chats have so expanded my horizons and helped me find mentors and colleagues to push me as an educator.

3. Use more Formative Assessment in my classroom: Being my third year in the Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators program, I need to make sure I am using all of the wonderful techniques I have learned. I often focus on my favorites and forget about the rest. It is important to vary the Formative techniques I use. Need to focus more on allowing students to self-assess.

4. Lead by example: I need to continue by asking others to do as I do. Leaders leave the footsteps for people to follow them. I need to continue to press my feet into the ground for all to see and follow. If I say I am going to do something, I need to get it done. This goes for staff and students. I need to make sure if I ask the students to complete a task, I need to model it full for understanding,

5.  Blog: I need to do a better job of sharing my experiences. I am a poor writer in general, but I can write. If I write more I will get better. I wrote 53 blogs last year, I hope to improve on that number significantly this year. In blogging more, I will also be holding myself more accountable for my teaching and actions. I also have hopes of improving this site, by adding pictures and links,


I hope everyone has a great 2013. Keep up with your resolutions. Help hold me to mine.