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Three Teaching Resolutions for 2023 That Really Work

new year resolutions

The entire concept of New Year’s resolutions has evolved to be primarily comical as people set about making promises they fully intend to break in the days, weeks, or months ahead. This cultural norm is fine when we jettison plans to exercise more or cut down on screentime, but any professional resolutions should be met with far more earnestness. Education is a field that encourages a high degree of reflective practice, and effective teachers know that success is a continuous process that hinges on being consistently open to change and improvement. To create meaningful and attainable goals for the upcoming calendar year, consider focusing on just three New Year’s resolutions that will achieve visible results.

Resolution #1: Pick just one thing to change.

Dramatic change is scary to contemplate. Whenever we think about making any kind of shift in practice, our brains jump to the end result. Thinking about all the steps it might take to get somewhere is overwhelming and impractical, and it usually results in people giving up before they make any progress with a new initiative. Instead, selecting just one small thing that we can commit to is a far more doable option. Suppose my goal is to incorporate student voice into my classroom, be it through lesson planning or by hearing students talk more. It might be too much to expect that I ask for constant feedback from my classes and make changes on a regular basis, but I could resolve to ask for more information about what students enjoyed (or didn’t) and what they would like to try next at a designated time, perhaps at the end of each unit.

If I want to encourage kids to speak up more (thereby literally hearing more voices), I can experiment with discussion protocols, perhaps just one at a time. I might hand out conversation starters, or have the whole class write questions about a brand-new concept and then have everyone get up and share their queries with one another. No matter how I decide to accomplish a goal, taking smaller steps is far more effective in getting anyone closer to achieving more lasting results as these tiny changes become enduring habits.

Resolution #2: Reach out to a new colleague.

It’s natural to get comfortable with certain routines, and it’s just as common to surround ourselves with a core group of friends or colleagues who make our work lives a little easier each day. If we are not careful, however, it gets easy to become mired in a rut. One way to freshen perspective is to learn from someone with whom we might not ordinarily interact. Perhaps that person is a colleague who seems great but is located geographically in another area of the building, or it might be a teacher in another department or team. It can be awkward to approach someone out of the blue, so one great way to break the ice is to select a very genuine reason to talk to this person. Maybe there’s something they do that you want to get better at, like implementing blended learning structures or engaging students with better methods of equitable calling. Perhaps it would be helpful to get a fresh set of eyes on an upcoming lesson, and they’re just the right person to provide some perspective. Chances are that not only will they be happy to connect, but that they will also want to collaborate and share their own work and get your feedback, too. The benefit of this reciprocal relationship has the power to help anyone make connections that refreshes their point of view.

Resolution #3: Select one resource to explore this summer.

Once the school year gets rolling, there isn’t much time for professional learning. However, that doesn’t mean that teachers are not acutely aware of topics they’d like to explore (given the luxury of bandwidth for thinking, that is). As student needs remain justifiably the focus, it still helps to take note of what might be good to explore once things slow down. Always wanted to learn more about flipped classrooms? Find some books or webinars that either come strongly recommended by colleagues or that are highly rated via online resources. Interested in attending professional learning at conferences in the next academic year? Look up what might be happening near your geographic area, what topics the conference explores, and whether it might be worthwhile to explore funding and attendance options in the summertime. To make any prospective learning experience even richer and fold accountability into the process, find colleagues near or far to join in the fun.

Most people set unrealistic goals in January only to forget about them by February. Making resolutions is usually a half-hearted experience, but that does not have to be the case for setting sights on professional goals. When teachers identify reliable, attainable targets for better results, we serve both our own interests and invest in the futures of students, even those we have yet to encounter. By making just one small adjustment to practice, reaching out for the perspective of a new colleague, and designating a topic of exploration to set aside for the summer months, becoming even more reflective and effective is well within the grasp of anyone who wants to fulfill truly meaningful professional resolutions.

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 Lead Like a Teacher. She is also a National Board-Certified Teacher with additional certification in administration and supervision. She can be reached at or via Twitter: @MirPloMCPS