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Nine Resolutions Educators Need to Keep in 2022

Happy New Year, teachers! How many of you are hoping that 2022 winds up being better than 2021? I know I am!

For many years now, I have avoided making promises to myself or others about the coming year. Resolutions are notorious for being difficult to keep, and honestly, I have no desire to eat less chocolate or stop streaming far too many hours of TV. Life is difficult enough. Having said that, there is value in setting goals for the upcoming year that are attainable, that will help us grow, and that we want to do. In that spirit, here are nine suggestions for resolutions that will help make 2022 memorable in all the right ways.

Embrace the Power of “No”

In a Zoom last week, a colleague shared her recent success in finally saying “no” to requests or demands that she would have previously accepted. Especially for those of us who are eager to please, refusals can be extremely challenging. However, being too agreeable is a primary cause of burnout and stress. This year, putting our collective feet down is a non-negotiable wellness strategy. One way we can get ahead of saying “no” is to anticipate some of the unwelcome requests that come our way repeatedly. If my child asks me to do laundry at the last minute every single week, I can change that pattern by setting the expectation that laundry needs must be shared at least one day before the situation becomes urgent. On the professional front, I might wish to clearly express that non-urgent paperwork be handed to me for completion within a stipulated timeframe so that people do not expect me to fill out complex forms with just a few hours (or alas, minutes) to spare.

But Be Open to an Empowering “Yes”

Saying “no” strategically is one thing, but we want to remain open to possibility. It may sound trite, but we will never know what we are capable of unless we try, often repeatedly, to achieve what matters to us. I have always written in one form or another, but it was not until I realized that rejection was the most frequent part of the writing process that I began pursuing publication more actively. Now, with one book coming out in May and another under contract, I have come to accept the friction that comes with putting myself out there. Some days are more difficult than others in my writing life, but I have never regretted telling myself that I could tackle a new challenge. This coming year, as we think about what we would like to bring into our lives, making some determinations about what we wish to try can help make some long-buried goals a reality.

Forgive Yourself

Every now and then, I arbitrarily recall a cringeworthy moment and begin to mentally torture myself. But then, I consciously remember my humanity. Everyone makes mistakes. It might not stop difficult thoughts from intruding into our consciousness, but refusing to allow our inner critics to take over is important. We are all going to make mistakes: in the classroom, with colleagues, with friends and family. The important determination of our futures is not what we do wrong, but how we learn from our experiences. If I handle a situation badly one day, I can almost always fix it the next. Along those lines, forgiving ourselves and seeing wrong turns as a natural part of the human experience allows us to be more self-compassionate and move forward productively.

Nourish Body and Spirit

More often than not, we go home completely tapped. It’s hard to give our families and friends the attention they deserve when so much of our energy goes into the people we see at work. While lessening our professional dedication might not be wise or viable, we can increase our energy output and sense of wellbeing if we take a few simple steps to nourish our bodies and minds. To do both, planning is key. For example, packing meals the night before or grabbing an early workout can help us approach the coming day in a prepared state of physical wellness, while doing a meditation app on our phones can optimize a healthy mindset. If we anticipate our needs proactively, we are far more likely to make space for the aspects of our lives that matter most.

Make Happiness Unconditional

The phrase “guilty pleasure” drives me bananas. Why should we feel bad about liking what we like? If I want to watch all the Twilight movies more than once people are welcome to judge all they want, but who cares? Being happy is too valuable to sacrifice just because someone else tells us that what we enjoy is silly. This year, let’s resolve to let ourselves be happy without worrying about being judged. To take it one step further, if we make a short list each day of the things that make us happy, we will be more attuned to how the little details really make a huge difference. Maybe someone’s taste in music is loathsome to other people, but if it sparks joy and makes each day better, that is really all that matters.

Pause and Think

Every now and then, I set aside time to literally sit still and stare at the wall. Often, the process of giving myself permission to think results in some productive brainwaves. When things get crazy, having time to reflect is a luxury. If we do not make time for open thought, we will be in a frenetic, task-oriented headspace too much of the time. However, if we reserve just five minutes a day to sit back and think, we may feel calmer and more focused after we’ve had that mental reset. Five minutes is not that much time, and holding ourselves to the intentional practice of reflection is a resolution that helps us reorient ourselves on even the busiest of days.

Pick Battles

Being opinionated is par for the course for many of us. We lead with passion, which is what brought us into education to begin with. However, not every battle is worth fighting. As we return for the second half of a stressful year, being aware of what we have the capacity and the energy to change is important. I might be able to win every little battle I fight, but how will that affect my health in the coming months and years? Suppose we have a teacher friend who is dealing with a difficult parent and needs our help. Providing solicited advice might be fine, but expending further effort on helping them (like helping to write an email) is too much. We need to be judicious about prioritizing our actions.

Find Quiet

Schools are not quiet places; that’s one of the reasons we like them. Still, there is a reason silence is golden. If we can find a corner either at work (less likely) or elsewhere to have a few moments of stillness, the tranquility we find will be invaluable. One excellent space for finding quiet is the car, either before or after school. I have been known to park down the block from my house and sit in the car with my eyes closed for just a few minutes, focusing on my breathing and the lack of sound. Like some of the other suggested resolutions above, embracing the quiet helps to recharge our batteries and help us make it through the rest of the day.

Listen to Yourself

There are days when my physical being becomes heavy with weariness. Our bodies and minds have a way of telling us when we’ve had enough. If your muscles are screaming after a day of standing up, find a way to rest. If you are trying to grade papers and the words no longer make sense, put the papers away. If we try to push ourselves past the boundaries of what is healthy, the results will not be worth keeping anyway. Any work I do while exhausted is reflective of that less productive state of mind. It makes far more sense to pack it in and return to whatever we need to do when we’ve had a chance to rest.

People do not typically expect to keep their New Year’s resolutions, which is par for the course. However, if 2021 took a whole lot out of you (as it did for most of us) and a change needs to happen, think about adopting one or two of the suggestions above to see if they help make a positive difference. We know that insanity is defined as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. If we want 2022 to be better, it’s up to us to take what actions we can to make changes that matter.

Written by Miriam Plotinsky, Education World Contributing Writer

Miriam Plotinsky is an instructional specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where she has taught and led for more than 20 years. She is the author of Teach More, Hover Less and is also a National Board-Certified Teacher with additional certification in administration and supervision. She can be reached at or via Twitter: @MirPloMCPS.

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