So, this is the season for these things called New Year's resolutions. We are accustomed to creating them for our personal lives, but creating a different list for you and your students can be helpful as we begin a new calendar year in school.

The following resolutions are for your consideration: In 2018, I resolve to:

  • Call my students' attention to the specific progress they have made since school started last fall and on-going progress at regular intervals.
  • Use growth mindset language and practices consistently as described by Dr. Carol Dweck and others (this YouTube video is an excellent place to start).
  • Carefully examine learning areas in which students have not been able to move forward, and stop using practices that have demonstrated to be ineffective with particular students.
  • Replace ineffective learning activities with tasks that have proven efficacy for students with learning difficulties.
  • Teach my students how to set and accomplish realistic short-term goals (see below) every day in every subject area or class to give them a sense of how their own thoughts and actions can positively impact their achievement.
  • Provide consistent opportunities for gifted/advanced students to take a voluntary pretest before I teach them content they may already know.
  • Have already created two extension activities that will be ready for those students who demonstrate they do not need more practice with specific upcoming standards. One will appeal to auditory learners who enjoy logical, analytic and sequential thinking, which are present in most typical learning tasks. The second will appeal to visual, tactile-kinesthetic learners who need to see the big picture of require content before being expected to learn individual pieces of a larger unit or learning experience. A third, suggested by students, must be approved by the teacher.
  • Describe those extension activities to everyone in the class, since some of my students may have more advanced abilities than they have been willing to reveal in class.

Short-term goal setting: The daily log

Students use the daily log for keeping track of their own work by setting their short-term goal for a single period of work, then recording their actual accomplishment at the end of the work period. The goal transfers their attention from "finishing their work" to learning how to set realistic goals for a discrete period of time.

The secret benefit is that students eventually realize that the path to accomplishing one's long-term goals is to connect many successes with short-term goals.

Create one log for each subject area

Example: Math

When talking to students as they set their new goals each day, use words that encourage students to rely on themselves as they move toward more realistic goals. Teach students to use specific phrases as they work, such as:

  • "What can I do differently today that might help me accomplish the goal I have set?"
  • "How will I know when I am working very hard on each problem?"
  • "Today my brain grew as I worked very hard to accomplish the goal I have set. Way to go!"

In this way, over time, success is redefined as the the ability to set and accomplish realistic short-term goals in all aspects of their lives, which can set the state for improved goal-setting and outcomes in general.

For other helpful language, search the internet for "The Language of Growth Mindset."