Getting caught up on my teaching blogs this weekend, I found many people making their "New Year Resolutions." Following the herd (because heading into my sixth year of teaching, I know that I still have so much to improve on!):
1) Keep my room tidy and organized. So selfish of me! But I have started off fairly well. (I still have some books to put away in my new bookshelves and I have some posters to find a home for.) This resolution has gone further than my own personal sanity and reputation though. I have created the missing day folders where students can go to pick up handouts they have missed. I have the homework turn-in boxes all setup (but still needing labels). It is starting to come together. Now I just need to keep it up and file things the hour they are no longer needed out.
2) Beef up my teaching of my non-calculus class. Each year, I am thrown one or two random courses that are not my calculus course and it always changes each year. Because of that, I never take the time to really think out a good unit or great projects because I probably won't teach it again. Nor do I organize the materials I create. That then affects how I teach the course. Without taking more time in the planning, I am basically saying that I don't care about those students and I've realized that in my conserving of my own resources, I have not been giving them the best education that I could. There is no creativity in the course and I am not happy, nor are they.
I've started out well with this so far. I have my first unit outlined and I started with an amazing first day to test their previous knowledge. I had each student tell me their name and something that they like to do. At the end, I introduced myself and told them I liked to bake and to share my baking with my classes. So I put up three different recipes and had them help me double one, halve another, and take a third of the last one. We worked on fractions and conversions. (I brought in my measuring cups and spoons. So when they told me: 1/12 of cup, I showed them I couldn't measure that so they needed to change their unit of measurement.) I just need to keep finding more of those things to do!
3) Not let my students fall through the cracks. With almost 100 students, that is hard to do. But I need to pay better attention to each student. I've gone back to collecting homework every night to keep and read, which will help somewhat. But I need to catch when students aren't doing well before it's too late and I've lost them for the year. It's watching the quality of their work, talking to them when I see a change, and letting them know that I'm paying attention to them. Some days, it's hard to spend all of that time thinking about the kids and evaluating where they're at, but I know that it's worth it.