New Year’s Resolutions of an English Language Teacher

Typical end-of-the-year promises have to do with exercising more, staying in touch with your parents, and the like. I’m one of those people who make one or two New Year’s resolutions every year, and I actually have a pretty good track record of keeping those promises. (However, I will admit that I wasn’t very consistent about exercising in 2009.)

In this posting, I’m going to focus only on my goals as a teacher. What do I promise to do in 2010?

1) Update my library.  Good books will always be good books, but if authors and publishers have come out with new editions, the most current materials are ideal to have. To the extent I’m able to, I want to expand and update my personal ESL/EFL library.

If you’re not certain about buying a book, you might do some browsing at the local library. I recall a time I was visiting the Boston Public Library on a weekly basis to examine resources for teaching. I became acquainted with certain authors, and if I found myself renewing or checking out an item more than once, I then considered buying my own copy.

2) Learn more technology for instructional purposes. I’m already trying to do this, but I want to reaffirm my commitment to being more tech-savvy. This includes taking the time to read the owner’s manual for my new digital camera so I can make better videos. It also means seeking out opportunities to learn from others.

I was approached by a wonderful group of teachers/ materials writers to co-moderate a session for the annual Electronic Village Online, a virtual extension of the TESOL convention. Just by interacting with my new colleagues over the past two months, I’ve already learned more about wikis, virtual offices, online quiz builders, and other tools. I can’t wait for the actual sessions to begin. Perhaps you’ll consider participating in one of the free sessions, too.

3) Organize/ toss old lesson plans. Are lesson plans like tax records? Should we hold on to them for at least seven years? Probably not. I think I need to tag some plans as priority and start tossing the rest. I have quite a clutter of lesson plans in digital and paper form.

As an online instructor, I have all my lesson plans in electronic form. For each student I teach there is a folder in My Documents, and as long as my lessons with a certain student continue, I won’t delete any files in the respective folder. At the end of our agreed period of study, I only delete that particular set of lesson plans if the student doesn’t indicate any intention of resuming private study. I share my lesson plans with private students via e-mail, so I think I can always find copies of the documents in my Sent Messages folder if I wanted to.

As for my old lesson plans on paper, there are quite a lot of them filed away in a storage unit in a bedroom closet. I really need to downsize that collection. Often I saved a plan not because the lesson itself was so good, but because a particular activity or the use of a new resource was effective. I need to look through past lesson plans and identify good ideas worth saving for future use. Perhaps I can share some of those ideas here on my blog and then toss the paper copies into the recycling bin.

Do you have a great idea to share? Please consider sharing it online either on your own site or here as a reply to this posting or one more closely related to your content.

4) Build my website. Let’s face it, in this day and age the standard for technical know-how gets higher each year. At one point, it was enough to know how to print a word document and reply to e-mail. Rather quickly, having more computer skills became the norm for the modern teacher. Can you do a PowerPoint presentation? Do you know how to scan photos? Can you make your own audio recordings via a headset and mic? More and more teachers have blogs, wikis, and websites as part of their professional persona. I think I’d like to build a website to broaden the resources I can offer ELLs. The very process of creating the site will inspire new ideas for teaching.

Well, now that I’ve stated my resolutions, you can hold me accountable for keeping them. Ask me this time next year if I was faithful to my promises.

Happy New Year to you all! May success, discovery, and joy be yours both in your professional and personal lives.

All the best,

Jennifer

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