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New Year’s Resolutions: Discussing Change in English Class
“To modernize is to adopt and to adapt, but it is also to recreate.”
Octavio Paz, (1914-1998), Mexican writer and diplomat.
Holidays and anniversaries often prompt personal reflections. As a new year beckons, millions of English language learners and thousands of English teachers reflect on their lives and make new year resolutions. In that same spirit, here are a few questions worth asking:
- What did you find satisfying in 2016?
- What were some magic days and memorable moments?
- What English words will you choose to remember?
- What English lessons would you prefer to forget?
Sometimes we look back with satisfaction on our classroom achievements, and sometimes we look back in regret. Almost everyone hopes for a happy, healthy, and more prosperous and productive new year. The challenge remains how we can move forward, and talking about change and hopes for change seems like a natural place.
Often, we openly declare our hopes and goals for the New Year with bold resolutions that require serious change in our habits. We also know that change can be hard, surprising, and sometimes liberating in our classrooms and in our personal lives.
With this in mind, an oft-asked question is “Where to start?” In my experience, outlining personal and academic/professional goals goes a long way. Try using the following prompts to get both yourself and your students started.
- What do you hope for in 2017?
- What changes would you like to make? Why?
- How do you plan to realize your goals in the next year?
- How will you measure personal success in 2017?
- How will you measure your academic success in 2017?
- Are you ready to keep your New Year resolutions?
Given the rate of exceptional technological and social change in the 21st century, I find that discussing the topic of Change a perennial winner in my advanced English classes. Although public opinion surveys show that only a small percentage of Americans keep their New Year resolutions to change after a month, I suspect we can increase those odds of our English students by candidly discussing our hopes and plans to change.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? How will you commit to change in the new year?
Feel free to use this sample Compelling Conversations chapter on Change in your English class, as well as this combo chapter on Celebrating American Holidays from the Compelling American Conversations Student/Teacher editions.
Interesting point Eric. As time moves on, teachers classroom techniques and knowledge go “past their use by date”. As teachers it’s vital that we periodically review our values, beliefs and practices and continue to update and renew. The new year seems like a great time to do this!
Thanks, Ross. We completely agree that we need to lead by example and continue to learn new techniques and create new assignments. This year, for example, I’m adding product review assignments for apps and websites. I might also add a “pitch your favorite charity/non-profit” this semester.
We’re lucky that each new semester offers new classes and new opportunities to continually improve and experiment. I know many other white collar professionals who find it harder to literally start anew on a regular basis.
Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.