Farewell, 2020: 5 new year's resolutions for teachers

There can't be many people who will be sorry to see the back of 2020. But how can we make sure 2021 is an improvement? Sarah Mullin offers some tips
31st December 2020, 10:39am
Sarah Mullin


Farewell, 2020: 5 new year's resolutions for teachers

Pens, Books & A Syringe, Next To Wooden Blocks Reading "2021"

There can be very few people who won't be glad to see the back of 2020. We've lived through a pandemic and two national lockdowns, and witnessed far too many heinous acts of violence in the world. 

We lost loved ones far too soon, and we just about made it through one of the most challenging terms ever experienced in our careers.

At this time of year, we are usually filled with optimism and hope, as we see out the old year and welcome in the new. This year, though, we seem to be starting 2021 knowing that there are further challenges ahead - beginning with staggered starts to the new term, and schools becoming Covid-testing hubs for pupils. 

Coronavirus: Five new year's resolutions for teachers

It has never been more important for us to plan to make positive changes in our professional lives, so that we can be more productive at work without burning ourselves out.

Here are five suggestions that might help us to prepare for the uncertain times ahead.

1. Remember your why

Never lose sight of what it was that motivated you to enter the teaching profession. Many of us feel driven by giving children the very best start in life, and helping young people to survive and thrive. 

As we prepare to return to schools in January, let's remember that some of the most valuable lessons our children learn will never feature on our lesson plans. We are helping them to prepare for future living, by enabling them to become responsible and resilient global citizens

With challenging times ahead in education, it will be more important than ever for teachers to remember our why: we really do make a difference, every single day.

2. Work shorter days

Long gone are the days when teachers were deemed heroes because they were the last to leave the school building each day. Thankfully, working ourselves into the ground is no longer considered to be a badge of honour. 

It will be important for us to adopt working practices that allow us to spend time with friends and family - and to invest our knowledge, time, energy, and resources effectively, so that we can achieve our goals more productively and healthily in 2021.

3. Break some teacher habits

The most demoralising words we can hear as teachers are: "We've always done it this way." 

But, if we reflect on our own practice, how much of what we do has merely become a habit? Whether it's reviewing our assessment and feedback schedules, relaunching our behaviour expectations, or reflecting on diversifying our teaching to meet the needs of our learners, let's take the time to evaluate our practice in January. 

And let's make positive changes to reduce unnecessary workload, breaking some of our teacher habits this year. 

5. Reduce presenteeism

If there's one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is that our health matters. How many times have we forced ourselves into work with a horrid flu we couldn't shift, because we felt guilty about the impact our absence would have on our pupils and colleagues? 

Working when we should be at home in our beds results in further exhaustion and poorer productivity. So, let's be more confident about taking the time we need to refuel in 2021. After all, an empty tank will get us nowhere.

5. Know your worth 

Teachers are incredible: they are responsible for creating every other profession there is. 

Always know the valuable role you play in your classrooms, schools, and in wider society. Make 2021 the year you realise your potential. 

Invest in yourself next year: if you've been thinking about studying for another qualification, if you've been feeling tempted to apply for that promotion, or if you've been putting off having that conversation about asking to work flexibly, be brave and do all you can to make things happen for you in 2020.

May 2021 bring you happiness and joy, and the strength to navigate whatever challenges may come our way. 

In the words of CS Lewis, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." Wishing teachers everywhere a very happy and healthy new year.

Sarah Mullin is a deputy headteacher and doctor of education student. She is the curator of "What They Didn't Teach Me on My PGCE", and the founder of #EduTeacherTips, a YouTube channel for teachers, by teachers. She tweets @MrsSarahMullin

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