My New Year’s Resolutions…

Originally posted at LinkedIn Pulse on 11th January 2015

Call me old-fashioned but I still believe that New Year’s resolutions can play an important part in our personal development. After all, the period between Christmas and New Year is one of the few times during the year that we get to stop, relax and reflect on the paths we’re travelling.

My personal goals are pretty straight forward this year, basically more of the same; start running (again), make better progress through my book collection (again), meditate more frequently (again) and have more quality time with my family (again).

But for my work at school, I have come up with three new New Year’s resolutions (a little late I know…) which I hope will develop my teaching in the classroom.

1, Provide better feedback to my students

Last year, a colleague began convincing me that the most efficient way for a teacher to increase student achievement was to provide effective feedback. I could see where he was coming from but I was adamant he was exaggerating, I mean what about the latest teaching developments, modern pedagogies and tech-based learning – surely all these stood above just giving better feedback ??

He explained that yes, there are other ways to improve learning which may be more effective, such as differentiated learning programmes, Piagetian programmes and RTI, but many of these require substantial reorganization and often approval from school leaders. In contrast, providing effective feedback is something that you could start today.

In an attempt to convince me once and for all, my colleague sent me long list of links that supported his argument. These links included the report by John Hattie in which he ranks 138 factors that influence student achievement and sure enough feedback makes the top 10.

So yes, I bought into this idea and last year I made some effort to improve the feedback I gave students and I wasn’t disappointed. It was rewarding to see how sincerely the students accepted their personalized feedback and how well they remembered it. I believe one explanation for this success is that personalized feedback makes our students feel important – yes my teacher is concerned for my development and understands my abilities. This makes our students far more inclined and motivated to act upon the feedback we provide.

So resolution No 1 – take time to provide more personalized feedback

2, Start flipping the class

I’d heard talk of flipping the classroom before but it wasn’t until the Educa seminar last year that I really became interested in this concept.

In a traditional classroom the teacher spends a substantial amount of time presenting new content which the students will then go on to apply in an assignment or project. These assignments often take place outside the class. In the flipped classroom students acquire the new subject content in advance by watching a video their teacher created. Then when they arrive in class the students get to work on their assignments under the guidance of the teacher.

An important benefit of this approach is that it drastically reduces the teacher talk time during lessons and creates more opportunities for student-centered production activities. It also allows students to review the central points of the lesson any time they like.

What I like about this approach is that it helps teachers move further away from the outdated ‘sage on the stage’ model.

This teaching approach was developed by Science teachers in the US and has been producing some impressive results. Groups of teachers that have adopted this model have created some great resources to help other teachers looking to follow in their steps.

I’m planning to use this approach with English language lessons that focus on grammar and new vocabulary.

Resolution No 2 – start flipping those grammar lessons

3, Blog more frequently

In 2015 I am also going to start writing regular posts using Linkedin’s new blogging tool. These posts will focus on teaching, learning and my experiences in the classroom. I believe that by purposefully reflecting on my work in class I will be able to better anaylse and evaluate it and hopefully improve my teaching.

I already write education articles for a number of websites,, and, but these tend to focus on education news and I want this new blog to be reflective. Of course reflecting on teaching practice can be done without writing a blog but I feel the process of writing down my thoughts and ideas will help consolidate my findings.

I’d love to have time to post on Linkedin each week but what with marking, planning, testing, training, fields trips and school activities I know that will never happen. So I’m gonna set myself a rather modest goal.

Resolution No 3 – write one post per month on Linkedin… and January’s post is already done 🙂

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