Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year, New Goals

This post is part of the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival. The host for January is Carissa Peck over at mELTing Activities, check out the rest of the articles at! As for me, I’ll post a new ESL related article to this blog around the start of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please get in touch with for information on how start participating!

I was recently telling one of my friends that I think I am the Scrooge of New Year's. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration because I don't exactly have anything against the New Year's, it's just that I find it to be an incredibly overrated holiday.  Year after year I never quite share in the excitement other people feel about ushering a new year.

When I saw that topic for this month's blog carnival was about our New Year's resolutions, I started to think about why it is I don't ever feel like January 1st is a fresh start.  I realized that for my entire life, first as a student and now as a teacher, school calendars have defined my sense of a year.  When I think about year, I think in terms of a school year. My years are defined by the new school calendar, meaning I feel a real new start in September when I have a new schedule and new students. I'm much more likely to feel like I have a fresh start with a new semester or new school year than I am with the change of a calendar on January 1st.

Luckily, in Korea the new school year starts in March, not September, so thinking about resolutions in January is a bit more timely for me than it is with the American calendar.  I feel I'm constantly evaluating things in my life whether it's relationships, what I'm doing in my free time, or my teaching practice.  However, when it comes to teaching it's sometimes difficult to successfully make changes in the middle of a year. It's always a welcome sense of relief when I have new students who don't know about my mistakes from the previous year.  In many ways, it's encouraging to put past failures in the past and start over again.

Although I have a number of goals for the new year, here are the big three I'm hoping to work on in 2015:

1)  Implement new classroom management strategies in my classes.  Teaching elementary school has been a bit of a game changer for me when it comes to classroom management.  Having students who don't understand a bit of what I'm saying has been extremely difficult, but I think I have become much more consistent and firm in how I deal with classroom management.  I can't have any gray areas because it will confuse the students--consistency is absolutely key.

Since I don't usually have a co-teacher in my classes, I've had to figure out how to handle these rowdy kids on my own.  I've tried so many things along the way, but now that I know my students better I have a much better idea of what works and what doesn't. The thing I'm most excited about when it comes to starting the new school year in March is knowing what to expect and being able to establish the kind of classroom I want from the very beginning. This semester I was trying to figure out so many things at once that it was more like just trying to stay one step ahead of the kids.  This semester, I'm looking forward to entering the first day with a plan for what I'm doing and how to do it.

2)  Renewing my teaching certification. The second goal I have for this new has to do with my post-Korea life.  Although I want to enjoy every moment I have in Korea, I have to also be thinking about what comes next.  Right now the most important thing for my post-Korea life is renewing my teaching certification for NH.  My current social studies certification is set to expire in June, so I need to make sure that everything is in order for my renewal.  I have a feeling this could be a bit of an ordeal, but this is a huge priority for me in the upcoming months.

3)  Last but not least, my third goal is to travel, travel, travel! With my time in Asia coming to an end in August, I'm anxious to do as much traveling as possible in the next few months.  I'll be visiting Laos, Cambodia, and Hong Kong this month, then in February I'll be heading to China.  Once these big trips are done my attention will shift to making the most of Korea's awesome spring season and the awesome festivals that go along with the spring and summer.  Here are some of the places I'm determined to go before leaving Korea:
--The DMZ
--The Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
--Jeju Island

I haven't done a ton of traveling in Korea the past few months to try to save money for my upcoming vacations, but I'm definitely ready to get traveling on my weekends again once the spring comes!

I'm sure this year will bring plenty of new challenges along the way, but I'm excited to see what kind of unexpected places this year bring me!