1 This is my final year of teaching; I’ve been at it too long already!
OK I’ve stopped a few times for several months and even a whole year once back in the eighties when some of you weren’t even born yet, but the truth is I’ve been teaching for 35 years and it is part of my psyche and identity now. When I do stop, I find myself wondering who I really am and still planning interesting activities in my head for the students I don’t even have. Maybe I will die in the classroom but it would still be sweet and fitting!
2. I’m going to have better time management.
This one is more like a trick than a promise. I believe that I am going to get more free time when I promise myself this but what happens is some really great idea comes along and then I get super organized and manage my time really well to pull it off, only to realize that I didn’t get more free time, I just managed to give up more time and do more things because I wanted to do it better!!
3. I’m not going to have any discipline issues at all this year because every lesson is going to be so totally inspiring, challenging and fun they are all just going to want to do it!
Right! Reality check needed right now! Since when, ever, did 20 to 40 people anywhere at the same time want to do exactly the same thing just because someone else wanted them to…… Right. Forget it and come up with some positive discipline ideas that work because those who don’t want to co-operate will always be there.
4. I’m not going to shout anymore!
This is the reason, I spend quite a bit of time standing there quietly waiting for a class full of students to notice that they aren’t listening, then a few do and start shouting at others to be quiet and soon there are several kids shouting at their classmates and another whole group making “Shh” noises that are actually louder than shouting and what do you know I notice that we have now lost 10 minutes of instruction time so I shout and silence reigns at last!! Nice try but sometimes shouting is the best and fastest option.
5. I’m going to learn all my students’ names in the first week.
I set about this one diligently every year and except for the few times I have taught the same kids in the previous year, I fail. Is it really possible to learn 100 plus new names and associate them with the right faces in five 50 minutes periods in one week? I don’t know maybe some people can do it, but I usually find that it takes closer to a month. However that first time you finally stop mixing up Tenzin Karma and Karma Tenzin or Paul George and George Paul, (yep every culture has them) they both have smiles so wide it inspires me to try it again next year.
6. I’m not going to make any spelling errors on the board this whole year.
It’s just never going to happen. Even for those who spell really well mistakes happen. As for me, I don’t. I have spent my whole life working on it and it is still a work in progress. OK I teach English and I do it pretty well, I think, but I can’t spell and under pressure I make lots of mistakes (just ask Red Dorji). Better to own up and carry a dictionary, warn every class that this might happen and reward those students who find the mistakes. Still, I go on believing, that one year, will miraculously turn out to be the spelling-error-free-year! Maybe that will be the year I have retired!
7. I’m going to make a little time for myself at school everyday.
This one usually starts out well. I go out and chat with colleagues in the mornings and take a break for 10 minutes at lunchtime to sit outdoors and just tune out for a while. Sometimes I even call home to Australia and speak to someone at a reasonable time for both of us, in my lunch break…….. Then before you know it a whole week has elapsed and I haven’t seen sunshine or breathed fresh air once from 8:30am to 4:10 pm because I’ve done nothing but make my way from one class to the next and then back to the office where I have whittled away the books to be corrected so that there are only a few left at the end of every day. Suddenly I look up and realize beyond “Good morning” I haven’t even spoken to the people I share an office with! Oops another broken promise.
8. I am not going to get stressed or overwhelmed instead I will remain calm and collected no matter what happens.
Some of the most inspirational teachers I have ever encountered have this perfect sense of unruffled composure (think Madam Choden at this point) and I have long wanted to emulate them. It is just not me. I am a drama queen and I wear my heart on my sleeve. Things get me; it is written all over my face just before I burst into tears or bite someone’s head off and regret doing so.
9. I’m going to keep my mouth shut and my good ideas to myself.
This never lasts more than the first week. I just can’t resist suggesting why don’t you do …… Then next thing I know I am saying, “Sure I can help and why don’t we…” and BINGO, I have myself another pet project. Being passionate about what you do has some serious drawbacks sometimes. I do often wonder if I am my own worst enemy.
10. I’m going to work smarter not harder.
Right sounds so easy but every smarter idea means more hard work and I just tricked myself into working smarter and harder. Why do I do that?
Well here’s the reason: “Teachers aren’t in it for the income but for the outcome!!”
PS There is another whole list of the things I don’t even promise myself anymore. Like I’m not taking any work home at the end of the day…. Oh but wait that might be next year’s article. That is unless I do give it up!