(Anti)resolutions

Sam Shah puts out the call for three new-school-year resolutions. Alison Blank, second-year math teacher and blogger to keep an eye on, drops a list:

I will take just a few minutes to review lessons after I’ve taught them, and learn from my mistakes.

I have found “learning from my mistakes” to be exceptionally easy in the minutes and hours immediately following un lesson de suck, while the stripes are still fresh, ragged, and raw. It’s another matter entirely to learn from those mistakes a full year later, as you’re about to confuse transformation with translation all over again.

Which is one point in favor of slideware. It’s simple to leave yourself notes on top of the offending slides, notes which you’ll encounter the next year, notes which (for me) were often profane and excoriating but always always appreciated.

Todd Seal takes a different route to his new year, vowing a set of anti-resolutions, what he won’t do this year:

Collect writing and then ignore it for a month. Expect study questions answered every night. Give daily reading check quizzes worth tons of points. Skip grading blogs on a Saturday morning. Wait until April to institute a classroom after-school writing lab. Circle every single grammatical error on a given page.

It’s an awesome exercise and every bit as valuable as a set of positive resolutions.

One more word while I’m on Todd: I’m pretty sure this is his thirteenth year teaching. He’s well above my blogroll’s median level of experience but he comes at his teaching and, especially, his writing about his teaching like he’s fresh out of an induction program.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s one thing for Alison or Sam or I to write a post of resolutions. That kind of regret and self-recrimination basically spills out of eager, new teachers. But I would urge anyone looking to turn this job into a career to keep an eye on Todd, how’s he’s stayed hungry long after his peers have fattened themselves up.

About 
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.

10 Comments

  1. I was actually thinking about your post-it notes when I made the resolution. I don’t have slides, but I tweaked my lesson plan template to have extra wide margins so I can just write in comments where they’re relevant. Save the lesson plans in a binder and I’ll have a good record of stuff that sucked for next year.

  2. This year, one of my resolutions is to institute Dan-styled presentations in all of my classes. So far, I’ve got the presentations done for the first week of school and they aren’t half bad.

    I do wonder, though, how many projector bulbs you went through.

  3. I went through one my first year. After that, I became more diligent about cleaning out the filter, and I’m still on my second bulb.

  4. Cleaning the what now?

    There’s a fan that blows air over the bulb to keep it cool. There is a filter to keep dirt from being blown all over the bulb. Classrooms have dust, so the filters get full and no longer pass air, which means that the bulb doesn’t get cooled which in turn shortens its life.

    The filter is usually some little pullout screen with a slice of foam rubber – you just pull it out, smack it against the outside of your door and blow through it to get the dust off and slide it back in. I do that maybe every other month or so.

    Using the projector for 8 hours/day for 200 days should be about 1/2 to 1/3 of the expected lifetime of a bulb.

  5. Hey, what’s that about experienced teachers not reflecting?

    That’s okay, I’m still laughing my a$$ off thinking about your post a few years back where you were anticipating spending much less time prepping for the year because with a couple years curriculum under your belt, you were just going to whip out the prior years slides…still beats starting from scratch, no?

    Mr. K, I got six months out of an almost 5 year old projector by cleaning the filter. Makes me wish I’d done it sooner.

  6. Just browsing through when I came upon this entry and had a “Bill and Ted’s” moment. Maybe your note to yourself should have said, “Hello present Dan,” and “From, Past Dan,” instead :)