The month of January brings with it a natural inclination for reflection and renewal. Although most K-12 educators are at the halfway way point for the academic year, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start 2024 off with renewed goals and resolutions.
Oftentimes, New Year’s resolutions can seem daunting and burdensome – which is likely why only 8% of people stick with their resolutions all year long –so it’s important to set goals that are inspiring and rooted in mindful self-reflection. As an educator, you can set mindful goals for the new year that will fuel your motivation and reignite your passion for teaching.
In this article, we will share some best practices for setting mindful goals, and we'll offer some resolution ideas for teachers to strive for this year.
Why is goal-setting important for teachers and administrators?
As educators and administrators, the journey of professional growth is a lifelong journey. Setting and revisiting goals periodically shouldn't be just another task on your list – although it’s understandable to feel that way when you have a million other things to do. Try to think of goal-setting instead as a pathway to professional fulfillment. Here's why goal-setting is crucial for both teachers and administrators:
- It gives you career direction: Establishing clear goals can provide you with a roadmap of sorts for your professional journey as an educator. It can help you define where you want to go, guide your decisions and actions, and keep you from feeling like you’re just going in circles in your career.
- Provides motivation and encouragement: The best goals can serve as an incredible source of great motivation in your life. Knowing that you’re taking steps toward your goals infuses your work with purpose. This can reignite your passion and commitment, and even make mundane daily tasks more engaging.
- Helps you continuously improve your skills and knowledge: The process of setting and achieving goals inherently leads to ongoing learning and development – something that every educator strives for. By embracing a growth mindset – the idea that you have the ability to reach your goals if you work hard enough – you continuously work toward becoming better and better (than you already are!) at what you do.
- You become more satisfied in your job: Accomplishing your goals, no matter how small, contributes to a sense of achievement. The satisfaction of meeting your goals can be a powerful driver for keeping up your enthusiasm, leading to greater satisfaction in your life and career.
Examples of mindful resolutions for teachers
For many of us in the education sphere, there are endless things that we feel we “should” or “need to” be doing in the classroom and beyond. But setting mindful resolutions isn’t about punishing yourself or cramming your busy schedule with additional tasks.
At Calm Classroom, we like to think of mindful resolutions as goals that keep us engaged, enthusiastic, and open-hearted in our work with students. These resolutions should be beneficial and bring peace to both you and the people you work with.
You may be tempted to set goals like keeping your desk organized or learning the newest technologies. It’s okay to strive toward goals like that, but setting additional, more mindful intentions for the year can keep you connected to what truly matters most.
Here are some examples of mindfulness intentions for teachers, principals, and other education staff for the new year.
Prioritize your wellness
You’ve heard us talk about self-care over and over again – but it remains important. Consider shifting your focus and make a conscious effort to prioritize your own wellness this year.
Teaching is demanding to say the least, and it's crucial to find a healthy balance between your professional and personal lives. Incorporate strategies and activities that promote overall well-being, including physical, emotional, and mental health. A good mindful resolution includes plans for when you’ll do specific activities, like “take a quick walk after work every day.”
Try to foster an environment that values self-care, and recognize that your wellness is integral to effective teaching. Taking care of ourselves not only benefits us as educators, but also ensures we’re able to provide the best support for our students.
Cultivating empathy for your students – especially those labeled as “difficult” or who’ve presented with behavioral challenges – can be a challenging, but rewarding, resolution to set for the new year.
Taking a trauma-informed approach is about understanding that behavioral difficulties in the classroom can stem from a wide range of sources, including trauma. And by fostering empathy for every student, including those who challenge you, you create an inclusive environment for all.
Plus, empathy helps you build relationships with your students – which is one of the most important and meaningful tasks for teachers. By showing genuine care and interest in every student’s well-being, you create a classroom environment where students feel seen, valued, and motivated to actively engage in learning. Plus, the relationship you build can help students become more resilient against the effects of trauma.
Practice mindful speech
Too often, we say things we don’t mean – whether that’s in a difficult moment in the classroom or during an argument with a loved one. This year, try to practice mindful speech and cultivate mindfulness in your communication as an educator.
This means prioritizing thoughtful and respectful speech, incorporating activities that center around active listening, providing constructive feedback, and expressing ideas with kindness. Just like any skill, mindful speech needs to be practiced and honed. Engage in personal mindful communication exercises and reflect on the importance of choosing words consciously.
Here’s a bonus: by practicing mindful speech yourself, you contribute to fostering a positive and harmonious atmosphere within your classroom. Mindful speech can empower you to set an example for students and promote their ability to build healthy relationships throughout their lives.
Foster more gratitude
Another mindful resolution idea is to cultivate a culture of gratitude within your classroom. Encourage students to express appreciation for one another and their accomplishments. Try using gratitude activities like daily reflections, gratitude journals, or group gratitude projects (like a gratitude board).
By fostering an environment of gratitude in your classroom, you not only enhance the overall positivity at school – you also instill in students the valuable habit of recognizing and appreciating all the good things in life.
Also, consider the importance of starting with yourself as an example. How can you foster more gratitude in your own attitude about life? Try using the same activities – like a gratitude journal – yourself. Ask yourself questions like, What did I love about teaching today? What’s something that a student did that made me smile?
Calm Classroom makes mindfulness easy!
It’s never too late to start your Calm Classroom journey – we may be in the middle of the school year, but you can still sign your classroom up today. Our curriculum makes it easy for anyone, regardless of their mindfulness experience, to teach and learn quick, age-appropriate mindfulness lessons.
Sign up today to learn mindfulness techniques for you and your students.