New School Year’s Resolutions

            It’s been far too long. 

            Before leaving for a conference and then a cruise with family (yikes!) over the last month, I met up with a new writer friend who told me about her blog,  She and I agreed to regularly share work, drink wine, and pump each other up about writing when we need it.  Since that first meeting, I’ve been following her blog and find it fun, thoughtful, and approachable.  Much like the author herself, actually.

            Given the fact that I’ve just begun a new academic year, and introduced myself to 180 new middle schoolers and their parents, I thought I’d take a page out of my friend’s book (so to speak) and write up a few of my own New School Year’s Resolutions.  There are way too many, and some of them are entirely too unrealistic, but I figure — aim high.  Go big or go home.  Or something.  So here we go…

  • Be present.  I have a terrible habit of trying to do one thing while my mind is focused on twelve others.  That makes for sub-standard teaching and a lot of stress.  I want to be more in-the-moment for my classes.  It’s better for me and for them.  In other words, no more multi-tasking.  One thing at a time, Colleen.  One.  Thing.  At a time.
  • Read aloud.  They may be twelve and thirteen years old, but they love it.  And I love it, too.  I’m an actress at heart, really.
  • Take my classes outside more.  I live in Austin, where the weather is warm year-round.  I teach at a school with a lush, spacious courtyard.  The kids have a blast when we take field trips to the picnic tables for lessons.  And we all need a little Vitamin D now and then.  (Another bonus is that this also helps minimize the multi-tasking and encourages the reading aloud…)
  • Take care of my body.  Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise.  Sure, there is a vanity aspect of this resolution.  But maybe I can see that as a little perk rather than a necessity.  The real benefit is the simple fact that I will feel better if I follow these guidelines.
  • Take care of my mind.  I’m a happier person when I write, when I practice yoga, when I give myself the space to reflect and focus on the good things.  When I take the time to think and breath. 
  • Celebrate Austin.  Do all of those things that I love about this city.
  • Resist the urge to over-plan and/or plan too far ahead.  (See above, “be present.”)
  • Publicize BookPeople events and speakers to my students.  I love that place and what they do, and I know that many of my students would fall in love with it like I have —
  • Do the best I can with what I’m given.  There are things that I can change, and things that I cannot.  The materials offered to me, the students in my classroom, and the tests required by my state/district fall into the latter category.  I need to be grateful for what I have and make the most of it.  I’ll be a better (read:  happier) teacher if I understand my students, appreciate them, meet them where they are, and push them to be the best versions of themselves.  I can only control my classroom; I need to make that the best environment that I can.
  • Teach units and texts that I’m truly excited about.
  • Be disciplined and efficient with my time.
  • Say no.  Odd that I should resolve to be a “no” person, but generally I’m one of those people who takes on too much.  Inevitably, then, I feel overwhelmed with responsibility and can’t do anything as well as I’d like.  I will be so much happier if I learn to set boundaries for myself and let go sometimes.


So there you have it.  I’ve thrown a whole bunch of stuff at the wall.  Let’s see what sticks.  Oh, and don’t forget to check out my girl’s blog.  We could all use a little resolve each month, in happy bite-size portions.  (Unlike what I’ve done above, of course!)

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