10 New Year’s Resolutions for a (travel) teacher

taking a break to think helps teaching

The year comes to an end, so it’s time to come up with some new year’s resolutions which we can throw over board during the first week of January 2012. Luckily that won’t be much of a problem since the world is going to end anyway…but just for the fun of it, let’s think of 10 things that would be worth changing if the world would continue its existence.


1.) See a new country!

This might sound easier and more important for someone like me who is on the run anyway but actually it is a good thing for every teacher (and everybody else). Seeing different and new cultures helps to develop a wider understanding of different points of views, it lets you see problems through the eyes of others and might even lead to change of mind in some situations. At least it will make you more patient and appreciative of the things you have at home. Intercultural knowledge is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.


2.) Learn a new language!

css as languageAnother resolution that makes you think ‘yeah, for someone who travels a lot’. However I think, again, this helps everyone. Learning a new language will, like seeing a new country, give you a new perspective of seeing things. Furthermore you will get back into the student’s seat so you won’t forget how it is to study vocabulary, grammar, etc. This brings you closer to your students. You can even embed learning a new language in your classes. Oh and yes…learning a language doesn’t necessarily mean a spoken language (For the computer guys amongst us. Programming languages are languages as well.).


3.) Improve your current knowledge.

Sounds like a no-brainer but lets be honest. Who of us does update his knowledge in something we already ‘know very well’ or ‘teach for a long time’ regularly? It’s just human to rely on what you already know and maybe not to care to much about the latest releases in your very field. However we are responsible for the best education possible. That’s why we all should stay up-to-date. Actually not only within our own fields but also in related ones. And while this sounds like work (well it is) it also keeps you busy and away from getting ‘an old teacher’.


4.) Exchange knowledge! 

There are many different vocabularies out there who describe this. Exchanging, networking, meeting, discussing. Whatever you call it, do it! Talking with other people about things that bother (or simply need to be discussed) usually always helps to gain another perspective or to clear things up. Even if you don’t learn anything new, you might at least learn about other opinions. Almost everyone benefits from those experiences. Try it.


5.) Stay in shape / healthy

staying in shape is important for teaching After a day of teaching and office work many of us (me too sometimes) go home, turn on the tv and start couching. However, after having probably used the computer quite a while the very same day, this is not the wisest of all decisions. Going out, doing some exercise and keeping in shape (at least a little) is not only good for your health but also helps to keep a sound mind (sound body, sound mind!) and not to hit the ceiling every time your students go nuts or annoy you. It helps you to stay calm and relaxed. Exactly what most of us once in a while.


taking a break to think helps teaching6.) Take a break

Depending on your educational institution it might sound quite hard to take a break when there are still some problems that need to be solved. However it sometimes helps to get some fresh air, change the surrounding and simply not focusing on one special thing. Many companies urge their creative staff to work in ‘unusual and comfortable’ environments. Teachers on the other hand work quite often in very old and out-dated offices. This can’t be a good surrounding for creating curriculums and teaching plans that both educate and entertain our students. Change it!


7.) Improve teaching methodologies

Even though we are teachers and, by international teaching law, infallible, we might have to understand that we are not perfect. Neither are our teaching methodologies. Students develop further. So need we to do. Different generations / backgrounds / abilities need different approaches. Getting familiar with more different methodologies can only be of advance and should be on every teachers agenda in 2012.


8.) Listen

Students complain. A lot. To much homework, to difficult tests, to much this, to much that. We all know that. However sometimes they might be right. Take criticism seriously, tell your students that you really care about their feedback and that you will consider every suggestion. Most students will try to give valuable feedback and won’t over-exaggerate with the ‘to much homework’ thing.


9.) Teach outside ‘the box’.

teaching out of the box - take students to cookWhere do you usually teach? I expect most people say ‘in the classroom of course’. Yeah! That’s right and that’s the problem. Well it is not a problem since it is perfectly useful of course. However, just like with your own thoughts being more creative when you are not stuck in the office, students sometimes need a change of location. Take them out, change something and give them new adventures and assignments to master. This will help to develop their ability to get used to new challenges easier and furthermore will increase the team spirit.

Another way of teaching outside the box is to not only teach your students. If you have some spare time left, do something good and teach people / students in need who can not afford paying for an extra teacher or for school at all. Those students usually appreciate your work a lot and are fun to teach. Furthermore they will help you, once more, to gain a different perspective on things you might already took for granted.


facebook for teaching10.) Use Social Media

Meet your students where they already are. Be part of their ‘natural habitat’ (now I feel a little like Steve Irwin) and get them to interact there without pushing anything. Simply be part of it, be there if they want you to be there and shut up  or join the party if they are having fun. However don’t teach the way you would teach in class. Nobody wants the teacher to follow the student back home and teach there again. The same applies to social networks.

Furthermore you can use social media to take care of some more points we mentioned here already. Educate yourself. Use social media for studies and to exchange opinions or to network. Social Media is your friend! And it is already part of everyday life. At least for students. So don’t run away and ignore it, be part of it. Use it.


And now, happy new year everybody! 

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