As with each new school year, teachers must have realistic targets in achieving their objectives.
2014 is finally over and the new school term for 2015 has begun for some states today and for the rest of the country, tomorrow. Even if you are not the soul-searching type, given to periods of deep introspection, there must have been a moment at least when you reflected on all the things that had happened the previous year.
Whatever the case, when 2014 drew to a close, it is quite likely that you would have thought about how close or how far you came to fulfilling your personal goals for the year, your hits and your misses.
Maybe you also thought about what lies ahead for you in the new year and the changes it could potentially bring.
Soon you may find work beginning to pile up on your desk in the staff-room, you may be feeling like the whole cycle is going to repeat itself again and despite your best efforts, there might be little likelihood of real change.
The phrase “same old, same old” keeps ringing in your head and you begin to wonder if things are going to be any different this year for yourself at least.
Was it even worth setting goals and making resolutions when you have never ever been able to follow through due to one obstacle or another?
And yet when you look around you, you know that you cannot in all honesty say that there have been no changes at all.
You see that some familiar faces among your colleagues are missing and you remember that they have gone on transfer to another state.
There are also some new ones. Your teaching schedule may have changed – you may have shifted from the afternoon to the morning session or vice-versa. You may be teaching a different level this year, perhaps even a new subject.
Ups and downs
There are likely to be changes or reshuffling of other duties too, both in curricular and co-curricular or special service committees, but not everything would be to your satisfaction. However, with the pragmatism that comes with experience you are “okay’ even with the not-so-welcome changes.
You may also feel more ready to take on major changes related to curriculum and assessment like new texts, the PT3 examination and the school-based assessments that had caused a bit of a stir last year, and a considerable degree of confusion to many people. You know more of what to expect and so you are pretty certain that this time, you will be better prepared.
So, as it is with every new year, you know that some things end and some things begin.
When you think about the changes you had planned for the previous year, and how they fizzled out after only a few days, you may feellike a loser.
Some of you may after the first week of school feel totally swamped, you have no time and are simply too exhausted to follow through all your carefully laid out plans for a “new you”. So, slowly things may slip back to the way it used to be.
Those who are more experienced in the art of making and keeping resolutions say that one of the major reasons for not being able to follow through resolutions after you begin is due to unrealistic goals.
For instance resolving to do an hour-long workout in the gym daily when you have never exercised, is almost doomed to failure. A better alternative would be a 15- minute walk around the neighbourhood several times a week.
Likewise, if you are the sort who dashes in to school just seconds before the clock-in time, then instead resolving to be in school before dawn this year, it might be better to try to leave home 10 minutes earlier for a start.
If you are the sort that puts off writing your teaching record and lesson plans each day, why not tell yourself that this year you will make it a point to complete the next day’s lesson plans before you leave school for the day.
Instead of spending two free periods each day “socialising” over tea in the canteen, try cutting it down to one (period).Setting targets
You could set some real, achievable objectives like getting students who can’t do basic mathematics to just learn how to add, subtract, divide and multiply.
Perhaps your goal for the year could be getting students who have low language proficiency, to be able to introduce themselves, understand simple instructions or even write a short message.
Quite often though, the goals that are set for us by the administrators due to their own needs to fulfil stipulated performance indices, are impractical and teachers know that they are simply unachievable.
Like new year resolutions that fail because of unrealistic expectations, these out-of-reach targets are like causes that are lost even before they start. Instead of looking for reasons why these overly idealistic targets are not fulfilled, it would be better to set goals that are achievable.
It is like the 15-minute walk around the block for an exercise “newbie” compared to plunging into an hour-long strenuous workout. Perhaps you may be able to reach that level one day as you begin building up. But for a start, it is important to set achievable goals, resolutions that actually work, and targets that can actually be achieved in the classroom, not just on paper.
Meanwhile, do have a good year ahead. Happy New Year!MALLIKA VASUGI The STAR News Education 11 Jan 2015