We’re officially a few days into 2018 and everyone is setting resolutions. It’s almost guaranteed that you, or someone you know, has set the resolution to ‘lose weight,’ ‘spend more time with family,’ or ‘get organized.’ These kinds of resolutions can be great, but resolutions don't just have to be for personal growth and development. You can set professional resolutions as well! In fact, goal-setting is a great opportunity for reflection and planning for teachers, students, and general learning communities.
I’ve put together a few little activities that you can use to set teaching goals, to guide your students in setting their own goals, and to have a discussion with your learners to determine what your goals are in the classroom. Don’t forget to read until the end for some resources to help you succeed this new year and for a free worksheet that you can use for you or your students!
Setting Resolutions for the ESL Teacher
Setting a teaching resolution can seem overwhelming. There is a whole year ahead of you, and you may not know what your classroom time will look like. On the flip side, there’s a whole year behind you that may have seemed like a blur. This year, be sure to take advantage of the opportunities you have in the classroom by setting clear goals for success!
If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of setting resolutions professionally, find a few broader topics for improvement. Do some self-reflection and find out what areas of teaching you did well in the past year and what you could improve on. There are a few examples below, but be sure to base your resolutions on what you need and want to succeed as a teacher.
Possible Areas of Improvement:
Another thing to consider, that I hinted at above, is to not only set resolutions based on things you need to improve on. Make sure you maintain the things you already “have down.” If you’re really good at lesson planning, set a goal to continue creating space and time for your planning sessions. If you did really well with time management this past year, make sure to continue balancing work and life. Set a goal to only work during certain hours or to prioritize date night or family time at least once a week.
There is a goal-setting worksheet in our free resource library that you can access by signing up for the Everyday ESL newsletter below. Be sure to check it out and print out as many copies as you need to brainstorm your resolutions. Keep them in the front of your teaching binder, or pinned to a wall in your workspace in order to track your progress and keep your resolutions in front of you.
Setting Resolutions for the ESL Student
Setting resolutions is a great exercise for language learners. Not only can they set language-learning goals, they can also practice language while doing so. You can “beef up” this activity as much as you’d like by talking about the proper tense to use when setting goals or popular goals for those in the culture you’re in. If you’d like more ideas for teaching your students about New Year’s traditions, check out this article.
If you have a lower-proficiency class you may need to offer some examples of resolutions for your students. Don’t forget that just because your students can’t fluently communicate their goals doesn’t mean that they don’t have goals. Give them the tools and resources they need to set goals for their personal life, work life, and language-learning.
If you have a higher-proficiency class feel free to use the free worksheet at the end of this article to give them a guide to plan out their goal-completion. This is a great opportunity to talk about how to achieve goals and how the majority of people abandon their goals after the first month or two of the year. You can also give them opportunity to talk to their peers about their goals and get some feedback on how to ensure that they are successful in reaching their goals.
Setting Resolutions for the ESL Class
While it’s definitely helpful to set resolutions individually, the new year is a great opportunity to have a conversation as a class about what you want to achieve. Ask your students about what they want to learn this year, what they want from the class, and how you can support their language learning. A little humility, a listening ear, and a few questions can do wonders for your ESL class.
Schedule some time during a class to just chat with your students about what they need. I’m including a few questions below to help you begin to talk to your learners about their language-learning goals. Jot down what they say on a piece of paper and later, after class, spend some time with the resolution worksheet at the end of this article. Take what they’ve said and identify a few steps that will allow you to meet their needs as language-learners.
What do you need more practice with?
What do you need to learn how to do in English?
Do you have any events coming up this year that you need English for (parent-teacher conferences, travel, job interviews, etc.)
What do you think we should learn?
What was your favorite thing you learned this past year?
Tell me about a time when you used English this past year and you were proud.
Some tips for discussing resolutions: Be sure to give your students time to think about their answer before asking them to answer, especially with lower-level learners. Make sure your students are comfortable speaking. Make the classroom an environment where they can share opinions openly. It may be a good idea to have your students work in pairs or small groups before “presenting” their answers to the whole class. Another idea is to have your students reflect on the question individually before sharing with a partner and then answering to the teacher.
I Want to Hear From You!
What are some of your resolutions for your ESL classroom?
Have you talked to your students about setting resolutions? How did that go?