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Saturday / July 20

A Resolute Resolution

I decided I wanted to write a post about New Year’s resolutions. Every year, I make three or four personal resolutions: be more punctual, respond to texts promptly instead of thinking a response and not actually typing it, clean up after myself. Basically, my personal resolutions each year boil down to “Stop annoying your friends.” But, I thought to myself I wanted to write about professional resolutions.

So, I wrote this whole post, filled with beautiful imagery of roads not taken and untrampled grass. I have struggled this year to find my groove with one of my classes and I decided it was because I wasn’t sticking with my decisions. My best friend likes to tell me that I maintain a careful brand of “fickle decisiveness.” My professional resolution, therefore, was to be resolute.

Ironically, the post about being resolute was so vague, it might as well have been about nothing at all. You know when your students sometimes write answers like, “The author’s message was to try hard. I know because she put in a lot of details about it.” And you ask them to be more specific, and they look at you quizzically. And you say to them, “Please add more detail to your answer.” And they point to the word “details” in their answer and say, “I wrote about details.” That was the essence of the conversation I had with myself after reading my original post.

I’m going to take a cue from my personal resolutions. They are specific and specifically about ways I could be more supportive and responsive to the people with whom I’m close.

What are the ways I can be more supportive and responsive to my students and their families?

  • I could give feedback and grade classwork in a more timely manner.
  • I could call caregivers with positive phone calls more often.
  • I could make personalized vocabulary and spelling lists for the students based on words they are unsure how to control in their writing.
  • I could finish all of the assignments that I start with students.
  • I could improve the use of repetition with writing activities. Instead of teaching about introductory paragraphs and moving right on to the body of an essay, we could spend a week simply writing introductory paragraphs, myelinating the neural pathway so it becomes automatic.
  • I could use assessment data to develop small groups or individual conference rotations that target students who are not making the progress that I owe to them.
  • I could plan each lesson first for the students who speak and experience several languages and are developing their academic English capacity, instead of planning the lesson for students who only speak English and then trying to modify it.
  • I could call caregivers about academic needs as often, or more often, than I call about behavior or organizational needs.

If I choose one or two of these, I can be resolute in their specificity. Ideally, I would do all of these things, but realistically, that will simply lead me back to my fickle decisiveness, my “let’s throw all the spaghetti at the wall” approach to executive functioning. And pretty soon, I’ll revert to saying, “I know my answer is correct because I included details.”

What will be your specific professional resolution this year?

Written by

Cara Jeanne is a veteran teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. She teaches 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies at the same elementary school she attended as a child. She is pursuing her phD in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations at Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she also received her Masters degree and a certificate in Equity and Cultural Proficiency. Cara completed her undergraduate work at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she studied Psychology and English. Cara was a finalist for Baltimore County Teacher of the Year and is honored to serve on the Equity Team and Faculty Council at her school.

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  • Thanks for this insightful post!

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