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Goals for 2016

Cindy challenged us to write about our goals for the coming year. This is tough for me because I tend to be the type of person that lists. And then I make lists for my lists. And then I'm so overwhelmed by some of my lists of things that I want to do that little to none of it gets done because I've lost the inspiration to achieve that goal that I had at that particular moment in time. I even made a list before I started writing this post.

Right now, I'm thinking a lot about this NPR piece entitled, "How Writing Down Specific Goals Can Empower You." Some research has shown that when students write down their goals, they are significantly more likely to achieve them. After reading this (last year and again this year), I became even more exciting to put pen to paper (or, well, words to keys) and make some of my goals visible.

When I started a note on my iPhone the other day about things that I want to accomplish for this coming year, I struggled. As a teacher, I feel like there is always so much I can get better at. There's always one more book to read, one more strategy to implement, one more student to reach. Staring at the list, which I will share below, I'm recognizing that I'll be happy if I even accomplish one of these in the coming year.

For 2016, I'm planning to:
  • Be more intentional. Sometimes I feel the pressure of covering so much that I lose students and myself in the process. I want to spend more time planning with intention. Like I heard Penny Kittle mention at NCTE, there are things that are "nice to know," but I need to make sure I'm focusing on the essentials first. 
  • Slow down to speed up. When I teach, I sometimes get so excited about the destination that I forget the travel. And it's the journey that makes the end worth it! I'm like a kid that fixates on dessert and not on the main course. I want to spend more time celebrating process rather than product. I want to make sure that students have a firm grasp of the essentials before moving deeper. I don't know if I'll ever feel as if I have enough time, but I want to make sure that I'm achieving depth by having clear, consistent routines and processes in place that enable all students to achieve. 
  • Recognize that less is more. Sometimes I am so anxious to move to the next activity, the next book, the next assignment, I forget that what we're doing right now is truly the most important thing on both mine and my students' to-do list. Quantity certainly matters when it comes to reading and writing, but I've sacrificed quality at times just to check things off. I want to make more time to confer with readers and writers, and I want to make sure that every assignment reflects my values, even if that means I accomplish less in the grade book but more thinking. 
  • Read more with my ears. As the year ends, I've been frantically reading a variety of picture books, graphic novels, and novels to read my 150 book goal. For the upcoming year, I want to read more with my ears and take advantage of the down time that I have on my commute to school. My friend Beth and others have helped turn me on to truly amazing audiobooks lately, and I can't wait to devour them. (If you haven't listened to Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, I highly recommend it. I'm only two hours in, but this is a book that's had me sitting in my car several times now just to finish a chapter.)
  • Find a work-life balance. I love school. I think that's part of the reason that I became a teacher. But during my 3.5 years of teaching, I've slowly come to realize that I don't make enough time for myself along the way. I've spent a lot of time over winter break connecting with friends and family members that I haven't seen in a while, and I need to remember to do this more often--especially during the school year. I used to think that the best teachers were those that seemed to martyr themselves and lived in their classrooms, but I'm learning that the best teachers are those that can also learn outside the walls of their schools and, in turn, share that learning, passion, and drive with their students. 

For our next post, let's write about one of our goals. I'm hoping that by doing this, we'll build in a little more accountability. How can we help each other achieve the goal, or what have we done to work toward it? 


  1. I see so much of my fears from a few year ago about how in the world I would fit everything in with my students. The kids reminded me every year about the repetitive nature of English instruction - so I try to capitalize off of that by attempting informal pre-assessments to see what they know before I talk about it. It helps me know where to focus my time better.
    I need to read more audiobooks - and I'll probably have to do this at lunch because my commute is ridiculously short (7 minutes). They are addictive, aren't they?
    As far as work-life balance...hold onto your hat. Every time something changes, you need to readjust. This has been one of my ongoing goals for as long as I have been teaching (it was not a struggle I had with previous jobs). It's important - you need to find ways to nourish your own soul and your relationships if you're going to stick around in this profession. Anything else is a probably going to lead to burn out. Your students need you in the classroom - so definitely that last goal is so important.

  2. Great goals for the new year, Kevin! The first two (slow down to speed up and being intentional) are things I am striving for as well. And the work-life balance is a struggle for all of us passionate educators at times, but it is definitely something that is of utmost importance. Hope you have a great 2016!

    1. You too, Sarah! I hope we can connect again despite the lack of RA meetings!

  3. I've listened to a few audio books this year that I never would have stuck with if they'd have been in print... LEGEND by Lu, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Yoon, and BONE GAP by Ruby. Currently listening to FINDING AUDREY by Kinsella, but it's hard to do when I'm not commuting! It has helped me clean up the office at home, however... ;) I think you'll quite enjoy this part of your list! Here's to 2016, Kevin!

    1. I've added these to my list. LEGEND and EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING have been on my to-read list for a while now, and the print copies keep staring me down. Good to know these are quality audiobooks, too!


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