10 Ways To Have A More Productive Year

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The new year is here. I must be getting old because years seem to be passing faster and faster these days. I barely have time to blow off one resolution before another year rolls around and it’s time to ignore some new ones. “Fool me once,” said President Lincoln– I don’t make resolutions anymore. I just try my best to be a better human.

Life is about learning. There are a ton of things I’m trying to focus on this year because there are so many things out there that interest me. I’m breaking down my areas of learning into four spheres–some for career, and some for me. Reading, Inner Peace, Professional Improvement, and Fun. These are not resolutions. If they were, I’d be working on another post about how to break them and a third about the guilt I feel trying to scrape myself off the floor after I blow each one off in turn. One of the things I’m working on–not resolving, mind you, by considering four distinct spheres of learning–is “balance.”

Educators are often out of balance. It’s what causes burnout. Teachers suffer the highest burnout of all industries measured. Even first-responders and doctors have lower rates. Balance is the key. By addressing four areas of mental development, I’m hope to keep this in check. Here are some areas I will expand in my own personal quest for balance and learning. The suggestions in this week’s Learnist feature will be helpful not only to educators, but to non-educators alike. I’ve picked many boards that are not, on the surface, education features. It’s important for educators to look outside education. We don’t do that enough. If that habit begins, it becomes apparent that the areas “outside education” are where real education begins.

Books to Read in 2014

These collections of books are a combination of education and non-education books. I read education books when I can, but since I spend all day teaching, I like to read books on leadership and motivation to recharge. From the classics to the recently published, think outside the box and read some “non-ed” books that can and should be applied to what we do every day in our personal and professional lives.

Must Read Books for Teachers that Are Not “Teacher Books”

I use many of these books and the material in them directly in my class with students. They are motivational, self-improvement books that apply to all ages. This list combines classics like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich with modern day classics like Kamal Ravikant’s Live Your Truth and James Altucher’s Choose Yourself. Each of these books teaches us to be our best selves and reach our potential. It’s mystified me why books like these aren’t directly included in schools more, because the goal of schools is to guide students to reaching the stars, and that’s the subject of each one. If the most successful people in many industries can learn from these books, I figure, I can, and my students can, too.

Books about Education Every Teacher Should Read

This is a list of education books every teacher should read. These are heavy duty books designed to help you improve your teaching. You will find something here that can be used in the classroom immediately.

Keeping Balance in Your Life: The Daily Practice

We try to save the world, often at the expense of our own finances, relationships, and sanity. Author-entrepreneur James Altucher’s “The Daily Practice” seeks to categorize the elements of “balance,” creating a step-by-step method for bringing it to our day-to-day lives. Altucher’s writing style brings truth and entertainment together in each and every sentence, really causing some thought to take place. One of my favorite links is his article “How to Deal with Crappy People,” a true classic that will uplift, entertain, and make you think about the effect positivity has in our lives. Don’t be drained–be entertained. This is a board you’ll want to bookmark.

How to Improve Classroom Practice

Improving classroom practice is critical. There are always one or two areas I’d like to focus on above all else. I make a list and pick a couple. This year, I’m busy talking with my Professional Learning Network to find ideas that can better organize my classroom flow.

You Can “Teach Like a Pirate”

Dave Burgess’ “Teach Like a Pirate” has been an education blockbuster. It’s a book well worth reading either to sustain your current level of inspiration or to reinvigorate. The TLAP philosophy has real impact in the real classroom. Burgess gives tips on how everyone can be a “captain of hooks.”  TLAP is more than a book–it’s a way of life. You’ll bookmark this board, too, and read this book twice.

Giving Great Feedback

This board was created to teach students how to give and receive feedback. It’s a valuable skill to internalize as students because it will be useful for them in the world of work. This is one of the boards I’m revisiting this year in my quest to give and receive better professional feedback for myself and to teach students to cut to the chase with honesty and compassion. Feedback is the building block of all great ideas and vision–the better we can give and receive it, the better we will be. It’s a skill that must be actively taught and practiced every day.

Twitter Chats and the Moderators Who Rock Them

Having a good PLN (professional learning network) is critical to teachers. The law of numbers states that if you teach alongside six people in your department, you might have one who is teaching the things you are teaching or has the methodology you’d like to learn. If you cast your net on Twitter, your possibilities are endless. Making connections on Twitter chats helps to develop real-life professional relationships with experts around the world. This opens a million doors. The impact of making connections with like-minded positive people cannot be overstated.

Organize Your Classroom

This board helps to organize a bit so teacher clutter doesn’t overrun the universe. That’s a problem–we’re so afraid we will never get another airlift of supplies that we often save too much, and fail to organize what we have. Be zen! Let go! Let this board help you organize your class and mind…just a little bit.

Without Fun You Are Nothing…

The key to achieving balance is having fun. All work and no play is a terrible idea for achieving balance. Pick a hobby. Any hobby. Whether it’s running, yoga, crocheting, or wine tasting, pick something and learn it. Consider passing on your hobbies as well. That’s the whole premise behind these features–sharing learning. In 2014, make your new you shine. Have fun in and out of the classroom. Reach for the stars and have your best year yet!

Please continue the conversation on Twitter and on Facebook.

1 Comment

  1. Mitra Riya

    January 15, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Loved the way you have provided discourse on importance of learning. i will agree with you that learning is basic to living, but until and unless teaching modules can find better expositions – students will always find ‘learning’ a boring process. what i mean to say is that we should be looking at multi-dimensional aspects and contemporary forms of technology aided learning. multimedia & technology if combined in the right manner can take education system to a new height altogether.