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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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New Year’s Resolutions of a Gifted Teacher

As 2014 approaches, I wanted to reflect on my resolutions for the coming year. As a teacher of gifted, I thought it would be beneficial to share my goals and thoughts for the future as well as have other teachers post their resolutions here.

First, a disclosure: Im not that big on New Years resolutions since most people dont keep them, and I believe in allowing goals to come to mind at any time of year and acting on them when inspired. With that said, I still think the New Year provides an opportunity to reflect on how the school year is going and to make possible changes if needed.

The following are my resolutions for the coming year:

Social/Emotional Curriculum

I really believe that for a gifted program to be truly effective, it must address the social and emotional needs of students. Topics such as perfectionism, socializing, and sensitivity should be explored by students, allowing them to better understand the gifted mind as well as become aware of strategies for dealing with potential issues. To that end, I have recently created a Web quest based on Dr. Jim Delisles Eight Great Gripes of Gifted Kids, which will require my students to use various Internet resources to familiarize themselves with common social/emotional challenges experienced by gifted children. Using a computer-based lesson, I am hopeful I can weave the project into the existing curriculum, without losing ground. Another goal involves carefully monitoring my students to determine if they require counseling by the schools guidance counselor or through an outside counselor.

Personal Attention

In conjunction with monitoring my students emotional well-being, I plan to continue providing attention to my students through informal chats, conferences, and communication with parents. We often get so wrapped up in the school days demands, that its easy to forget to connect with students through a short conversation. It could be as simple as asking how they are doing or what they did over the weekend. These small gestures, I believe, can mean so much to young people. The phrase people dont care how much you know until they know how much you care rings true when it comes to students, even gifted ones.

A True Measure

Another goal I have is to measure myself as a teacher through my own criteria while still satisfying my school systems evaluation process. While it is necessary to be formally observed, I think teachers can drive themselves a little crazy by trying to reach standards (seemingly impossible at times) established by someone else. Realistically, I know I have to meet certain expectations as a teacher, however, the expectations I have for myself are the ones that I think will truly matter in the end. Evaluating yourself comes from asking the right questions and reflecting deeply on the answers. For me, it comes down to questions such as what impact do I want to have on my students? Am I doing the best I can each day with them? Am I using the best strategies and programs available? What contribution do I want to make to the field of education?

Expanding Enrichment

Within the last year, I have worked hard to expand enrichment opportunities to all students at the school where I work. One method has been the establishment of enrichment clusters-groups of students working together to create products and services. I hope to continue achieving this goal by finding additional ways to offer enrichment to all students, regardless of their I.Q. or program they are enrolled in. I believe all kids can benefit from talent development, creativity training, and other enrichment normally reserved for the gifted.

Be Patient

I also resolve to be patient with colleagues and realize that not everyone has been trained in addressing the needs of the gifted, and as an advocate for the gifted, I must remember that it falls on me to educate others and point them in the direction of research and resources that can help. Through conversation, e-mail, and training, I can share my knowledge and experience of what works with gifted childrenand that is the best I can do. I also need to remember that general education teachers have a full plate, which includes addressing the needs of all levels of students, not just the ones I work with.

Keep Learning

Finally, I always set the goal to continue learning about my field and to try improving each year as an educator. I remember the principal I worked for as a first-year teacher once told me that he simply expected his teachers to be better than the previous school year. What else could he expect but the attitude and willingness to improve ones craft? Getting better could mean implementing a new program, learning to better communicate with students, joining a committee and assuming more of a leadership position on campus. As mentioned earlier in this blog, I plan to improve my ability to address the social/emotional needs of my kids since that area, thought not formally assessed by a standardized test, will deeply impact their lives and affect everything else they do.

The New Year provides an opportunity to reflect, adjust, and set new goals as an educator. With the school year half over for many of us, it is an opportune time to notice what is working in the classroom and to fix what needs fixing. I have shared my resolutions. Now, it is the time to share yours!

Happy New Year,