Things you should try in your classroom…and some you shouldn’t!

It’s a new year so it’s a new you! You make a personal resolution but do you make a New Years’ teacher resolution?

What are some of the things you need to change, want to try, or what are you going to do more of.

Today I’ve compiled a list of New Years’ resolutions for teachers

  • Things you can try in your classroom
  • Routines you can change to get more of a work-life balance
  • Ways you can change to boost engagement and motivation
  • Things that you need to stop doing right now.

Try Flexible Seating

I know if you haven’t already heard…flexible seating is this new trend…

But beyond it being a new trend, flexible seating works for me because it encourages movement, variety, and comfortable workspaces.

It helps the fidgety student blend in. It helps students to dig in, get comfortable, and work. It’s also a great carrot to give and take away when it is not used appropriately.

Flexible seating doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

I’m on Facebook often so I will check their marketplace for good deals. I scored my class couch for $20. My ottomans and Muskoka chairs came from Value Village and were recovered with my basic sewing skills. Other yoga mats and floor rugs came from Dollarama.

education, elementary school, learning, technology and people concept - group of school kids with tablet pc computer having fun on break in classroom

Try Google Classroom

If you have any tech or students with tech accommodations then google classroom is essential to the management of your digital organization.

I use this to organize and distribute all tech resources for my students simply and easily. It is intuitive and easy to use. Integrates seamlessly with other apps and google products.

With more and more tech coming into the classroom. Management of these devices is essential.

I still have traditional methods to hand things in but this supplements our resources and reduces some of the paper overwhelm that happens in most classrooms.

It also makes taking marking home simple. No huge marking bag. You can mark things on your phone or tablet.

Try Inquiry Everywhere

Inquiry isn’t just for science and social studies. Inquiry-based teaching practices work everywhere. Ask students to solve a real-world problem in math and have them figure out what they will need to learn to make it possible.

Try Inquiry in language by giving more voice and choice in what they read, write, spell etc. Let them write what they choose. Expire the writing forms that they are most interested in.

Try Inquiry in art. Give them a choice on a famous artist and have them explore this and learn more about this. Have them share what they learned by creating an art project that is inspired by the artist to show their style.

Do Less Planningwhite female teacher head on desk frustruated tired exhausted burnt out

“The person doing most of the talking is the one doing most of the learning.”

This quote relates well to this point. If you are doing all of the planning without input from your students. They are less engaged in learning. Encourage active involvement from your students in their learning. If your students help to make the decisions about what they will learn, how they will learn, and how they will be assessed this reduces a lot of what you need to do to come up with creative and engaging activities.

The most engaging activities I have done are those that my student come up with themselves. They also don’t often need much in terms of supplies or extensive prep and resources. Next time you are wondering what final project you will come up with…stop doing it yourself and simply ask your students to be involved in the decision.

Leave Early More Often

Up until this year I rarely left before 4:30. Want to know how much more I got done? Not much. Three days a week I leave at 3:30-3:45 that is 15 to 30 mins after our end of day bell. Do I get less done?


I get no more done now than when I stayed until 4:30. However, I have also come to realize that I waste a lot of time doing things that don’t ‘push the needle’. I would do things that were not essential to the most important things. So leave earlier. Go to the gym, run an errand, grab a coffee date with your friends, be with your own family. Give Up More Control. Has anyone told you you might be a control freak?

young white boy stressed clock time hurried

Yes? Well, then this one might be hard, but worth doing.

We are educating students. Students that want autonomy and choice. Not because they are entitled and privileged (even if many are) it is the world we live in. It is the only world our students know. We can share our personal stories easily, connect with others, order food from just about anywhere and have all of our questions answered in a millisecond. Yet when students come to school most of them are passive participants in their own learning.

Why? Because they can’t handle it? Or because teachers are not comfortable with losing control of every little detail.

It takes some getting used to be able to just go with it. Push yourself beyond your comfort level. Disrupt your own thinking about what teaching and learning looks like. Adjust your expectations. Build Better Relationships How well do you know your students? How well do they know you?

Do you have a special unique ‘thing’ with them? I’m not talking about standing at your door and having a different handshake for each student (it’s great if you do but not necessary). Do you know their strengths, hobbies, interests? Do you take the time to listen, watch, and give positive attention to your students?

These times most often happen organically as students are getting ready, outside on duty, during transitions, or in those moments where you show them that you see them. It is where you also show them you. Your quirky, silly, fun side.

They know there is get down to business you that has high expectations and is demanding. But there is also the silly side that encourages them to get ready for recess while singing crazy made up songs in the hallway. Or stops in the middle of a lesson for a 30-sec dance party. Because…well why not?

Stop Comparing to Someone Else’s Highlight Reel

It’s hard not to! We are bombarded every day with perfect classrooms, cute decor, shiny objects, etc. But remember we are teachers. Unlike mommy bloggers, teachers can’t share the blooper reel.

If I have a bad day I need to be careful about what I put out there. Because the cause of that bad day is someone’s child. So I choose not to share that part. Not because it doesn’t happen but because it’s not fair to that child if I do. I also rarely post about my own children as we have made a conscious effort to keep some things private. Trust me; My day is never all rainbows and sunshine! I don’t have everything together. You can’t see the team behind me that makes what I do possible. But that team is there and I am here because I get it. Teaching is hard and if I can save you time and energy and stress by giving support, encouragement, or resources, then the time I put in it is worth it.

Want to hear more from Patti? Check out her blog or find her on Facebook and Instagram!

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