As 2012 rolls into 2013, now seems like a good time to make some resolutions for this year. One nice thing about teaching in a high school situation like mine is that all courses last only one semester. Last semester’s classes are done, and I get a fresh start with a new set of students. Without further ado, here are my 2013 resolutions.
Behavior management -- I'm determined to get behavior management under control this semester. Thanks to the feedback I received from many of you on an earlier post, I have devised a plan that I believe both positively reinforces positive behavior and punishes negative behavior. I introduced the plan to the students today and they seem to like it. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the system, and if it works, I’ll share it with you to try!
Parent communication -- Something I have a hard time with is communicating with parents. It’s not that I don’t want to communicate with them, but logistically, it is difficult. Many of my students have a pre-paid cell phone instead of a land-line home phone. To save minutes, many parents will turn off the cell phones making it hard to contact them. Often, the minutes will run out on the cell phone making it impossible to even leave a message.
For those parents who don’t have a pre-paid phone, many of them work shifts that make it difficult to contact them. Some of them sleep during the day and turn the ringer off so as not to be disturbed. Sending notes home has its own set of difficulties. Students usually think they are in trouble when they get a note to take home. Between the notes that never make it home, and the ones that never get a response, it is hard to know how effective the notes are. This semester I have a plan to tackle communication with parents. I have incorporated a communication log into the behavior management system with a reward for students who return notes signed by parents.
Clean desk policy -- I have written before about how I keep my papers organized. Everything from student work to IEP paperwork has a place, but oftentimes those designated places can pile up. If I wait until the end of the week to grade papers, I may have well over 200 papers to grade. This year I am instituting the clean desk policy. At the end of the day, I want my desk to be cleared of work waiting to be addressed. I may have to stay later than I normally do, but I think this will help in the long run.
Reflection is an important part of teaching. I believe we need to reflect more frequently than at the end of the school year. Sure, the summer months are a great time to reflect and improve for the next year, but why waste nine months when you could be improving all along the way. What resolutions have you made for your classroom for the new year?