New Year, New Classroom

It’s that time of year again where we make New Years resolutions that we know we won’t remember by the next holiday season.

The idea of new beginnings can be inspiring (at least for a week or two). Why not let that inspiration last the entire year or semester by making some changes (small or large) in your classroom? Here are some ideas we thing might just do the tick for you.

1. Use more technology. Here at SAGrader, we love using technology in the classroom (of course). If you happen to be an “old school” professor and try not to use any sort of technological advancement in your classroom, perhaps you should consider changing your ways this year. You need not adopt a whole new way of life, merely take a look at the options out there and pick a free, easy to use tool that will better your classroom in one way or another.

2. Use Less technology. Now, if you’re the opposite of “old school” and use every tech tool available, you may consider determining if any of the tools you use are no longer necessary. If it’s not longer helping your classroom or making your life easier, chop it from your resources. You don’t need it!

3. Be less forgiving (of student excuses for late homework due to tech glitches). As a student, I couldn’t stand it when teachers would let students off the hook for procrastinating. Ever hear the excuse “But, my printer had no ink!” or “I lost my jump drive!”? If students are prepared and complete their assignments in a timely manner, they won’t need to use these excuses. To save yourself from feeling like the Bad Guy, put a short paragraph in your syllabus that states excuses for late assignments due to technology-related errors are not acceptable.

4. Give your students more feedback. You might jot down a few notes here and there before handing back graded assignments. While that’s fine, why not go the extra mile and really read and analyze your students’ work and give them feedback that will make their next round of assignments better? Be the one teacher that actually teaches her students a thing or two!

5. Connect with your students more. Whether it’s extended office hours, tackling a social networking tool that your students use, or just beginning class with a casual discussion, connecting with your students will make the classroom experience more pleasurable for everyone. Try to get to know them as people if you can. If not, put yourself out there and let your students get to know you so they feel as comfortable as possible learning from you and asking you questions when needed.

6. Make class more interesting. Incorporate things like video, podcasts, and guest speakers into your class time rather than sticking to a strict lecture schedule. This mixes things up for your students, give you a break, and makes class sessions more memorable.

7. Quality, not quantity – make the class time you have with students count. Instead of droning on and on about a topic, ask questions and get your students to actively participate. It helps you seem less like a robot and more like a professor that cares about student learning.

8. Get organized. This one is a big resolution for lots of people, no matter their careers. In the classroom, this means staying on schedule, giving graded work back in a timely manner, and making sure all your students are on the same page.

9. Use more advanced evaluation techniques, like writing assignments. Students tire of the same ol’ same ol’ fill in the blanks, matching sections, multiple-choice questions. Mix it up and use multiple techniques to both present information and evaluate student work.

10. Give yourself a break & relax. We know it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. Sometimes we get so caught up in the little things that we lose sight of what’s important — that you teach well and students learn. By relaxing and having some “me time”, you’re able to put your best self forward and really help your students learn.

What New Years resolutions are you making for 2010, inside and outside of the classroom? Let us know in the comments!