Posts Tagged 'New Year’s resolutions'

New Year, New Me! Right?

By Leslie Alton

coffee cupEvery year January rolls around and people choose to push off the changes in their life that they wish to make until January 1st. Sometimes these changes stick for people, and for others once January ends so does their resolution. Personally, every year I try to add an activity or increase the amount of time that I devote to self-care. One of the self-care activities I have always left behind at the end of January is self-reflection. Why? Because who really likes to sit there and rehash how they feel about everything they have done in the past month, week, day, or even hour?

This year, the resolution of adding to my self-care regimen was pushed into high gear five months in advance. There was no waiting around until January 1st. The reason for this is because I began my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program here at Marquette. Yes, I understand that self-care is something critical to the field I am entering. Though the amount at which self-care was going to be launched upon me was far greater than I could have imagined. In every class we were assigned to look back on the activities we had done and things we had learned, many of which were placed in the context of our own lives. The first semester of graduate school is a whirlwind and every hour of my day was packed with class, work, daily living activities, repeat. Despite my packed schedule, self-care managed to wiggle itself into the agenda. This is partly because my professors integrated it into our assignments and partly because it helps me to balance the responsibilities I was juggling. In my Introduction to Counseling class Dr. Cook we compared the importance of self-care to the way flight attendants explain the order of which to put on your oxygen mask in the event of an emergency. If you do not first take care of yourself then you cannot as effectively take care of the people and responsibilities around you. This is especially applicable to the field that I am in, though I know it is applicable to any person or profession.

While I was forced to kick my New Year’s resolution off early, I am grateful that I did so. I believe that self-care is important to everyone’s wellbeing and is worth fitting it in to your busy schedule. Therefore, I am going to suggest a few ways to fit self-care into your life. Different things work better for different people, and I hope that if you find the right one you will carry it all the way into 2019 with you.

  1. There are a variety of meditation apps that take you through a guided breathing activity that is paired with peaceful music. Two specific apps are called “Breathe” and “Headspace”. With these apps you can choose from various lengths of recordings that address certain feelings you would like to pinpoint. A good time to fit this into your schedule is either a few minutes before bed or when you wake up. If you are a person who takes public transportation you could use this as a time to plug into the app and rejuvenate on your commute.
  2. Going for a walk during your lunch break is something that you can take a chunk from your break to get away from your office and have some time for yourself. The fresh air and moving of your muscles can help you to re-energize and make tackling the afternoon a bit easier.LA 2
  3. Exercise of any kind is a great form of self-care. It helps to release endorphins and contributes to physical health. Having a plan to exercise is a way to ensure that you fit it into your schedule. Whether that means scheduling a time for yourself in your agenda to go to the gym, or working out with a friend who holds you accountable. If you enjoy group workout classes, signing up for classes weekly will increase the likelihood of you staying on track since you made a monetary and vocal commitment. After creating a habit of exercise in your routine it will hopefully begin to feel necessary to ensure you engage in exercise.
  4. Healthy eating is a part of self-care that fuels your mind and your body. This is a popular resolution that people strive for, but it is hard to maintain. An easy way to keep this goal on track is to plan your meals for the week before you do your grocery shopping. This will not only help you to cook healthy meals since you are sticking to a grocery list that you have prepared, but it also can be a time saver as it can save from multiple trips to the grocery store each week.
  5. Preparing a few short mindfulness activities for yourself is a way to ensure you take a few minutes out of the day to reflect and be aware. This can be made easier by getting a book of mindfulness activities. Having the activities laid out for you makes following through with the goal more achievable. Books such as these can be found on Amazon or in local bookstores, or another option is finding some online for free.
  6. Journaling is a self-care task that to me sounded daunting for a long time. This was the case until I realized that journaling is for me and me only. There are no outside voices to critique or judge what you write. Giving yourself a prompt is helpful to spark your thoughts about what has been going on in your life lately. Personally, I am a fan of the rose and thorn technique (one positive and one negative event) that stuck out for me that day. Prompts such as these are helpful for when nothing to reflect on comes to mind.
  7. Sun salutations are a string of yoga poses that flow together and are used to get in touch with your body. They do not take more than five minutes, and getting into the routine of doing a sun salutation after waking up each morning can help to jumpstart your day with piece of mind.

Adding one or two of these activities to your schedule is a huge step in taking care of yourself. Taking the time to check in with what is going on in your life and body is key to managing your personal stress level and balancing your professional life with your personal life and wellbeing. I hope that you find a strategy that you can add to your routine in this new year, and the discipline to make this change past January 31st.


In Lieu of Resolutions… A Do More and Do Less List for 2016

new-years-eve-936219_960_720By Amanda Szramiak – Happy New Year! There are a lot of exciting (and scary) things happening in my life in 2016. I finally graduate! After a long, invaluable one hundred and forty plus credits of classes, my undergraduate career is coming to an end. While I will be student teaching in the fall, my last semester of course work is here. I am not a huge fan of resolutions, but I will be sharing my To Do More and To Do Less lists again.

To Do More:

Reading: This was on my list last year. Over the summer of 2015, I read five different books! It was great, but I still struggled with reading during the school year. I really hope to read for pleasure throughout the semester. My list of books I need to read before I become a teacher is getting frighteningly long, so I really need to read more!

Yoga:  If I go to the gym, I usually prefer to do some cardio and weight training. I rarely stretch, and I am so not flexible that it’s truly pathetic. I am in utter awe when I see Instagram yoga accounts of Yogis standing on their heads and bending in incredible positions. While I don’t think I will be able to stand on my head anytime soon, I really want to try to become a member of the yoga world.

Visiting Office Hours: I usually only visit my professors during office hours when they require it. I either wait until the last minute to work on a paper or feel embarrassed talking to my professor the day before something is due. I always forget that my professors are just as – if not even more – passionate about the subject they are teaching as I am. When I do visit my professors, our conversations are incredible and I want to soak in all the knowledge I can from them.

Traveling: Everyone keeps telling me to travel now because when I start my career, my time for leisurely vacations will diminish. While it’s tough to travel on my college budget, I started saving for a trip to Thailand in the early summer. My boyfriend and a few friends are planning on doing a United States road trip later in the summer. I also plan to visit Rhode Island a couple times during the semester.

Saving: Directly correlated to traveling, I hope to save as much money as I can. I am hoping to cut down eating out as much as possible. I also hope to put at least half of every paycheck I get into savings. That may be a little unrealistic and difficult, but having that in mind will definitely help.

To Do Less:

Swearing: I didn’t cut down on my swearing as I intended to last year, so it’s back on the list.

Allowing Student Voice: Understanding 2015 as a Teacher in Baltimore

Baltimore_riot_police_VOA (1)By Nick McDaniels- Happy New Year Marquette Educator Readers!  For this post in the past, I have professed some teaching resolutions.  And often, just like that extra 10 pounds I hoped to lose, or the student loan debt I hoped to pay down, those resolutions have been quickly forgotten.  I often use class time on the first day back from winter break to give a rousing “new year, new you” speech and ask for academic resolution from students.  This year, I did none of that.  Not because it usually is an ineffective practice at improvement, but because mainly, after a year like we had in Baltimore, it goes without saying that this year must be different and that last year has shaped us.

2015 was marked by one major event in Baltimore that has made us all forget American Pharaoh’s win at the Preakness, and, thankfully, the Ravens 2015 season.  In April of 2015, Freddie Gray, a young man living in West Baltimore, died after an interaction with police.  His death sparked what has been called an uprising, unrest, and riots.  Schools were temporarily closed.  The international news media made a trip to Charm City.  The National Guard occupied our streets.  The violence in the city then erupted, leading Baltimore to a nearly murder-a-day rate for 2015 and a record setting per-capita murder rate.  Quite simply, it was a difficult year to be a student in Baltimore.

So I told my students, just as my teacher told me on September 11, 2001, that, at least in Baltimore, people, their children perhaps, will want to know someday where you were and what you were doing during that time in late April of 2015.  The events impacted the lives of everyone in the city and the fallout continues to do so.  Trials for the officers charged in the death of Mr. Gray continue.  This is not, and may never be, behind us.

What we must remember now, in 2016, if there was a resolution to be made, it is that student voice in times of crisis and tragedy is extremely important.  So as the trials and the protests and the violence continue, we must allow space for students to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas about the events that are impacting their lives. We can hope that such events will never happen again, but, as we know, they can.  As such, we must charge ourselves as teachers to not look back on a year of tragedy and crisis having not given our students a chance to lift their own voices in response.

Happy New Year, COED-ers!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year – 

Here’s to making sure everything you do 

Comes from a deep purpose within your soul:


New Year’s resolution: Finding perfection in mistakes

By Sabrina Bong — Every year, I like to hear what others come up with for their New Year’s resolutions. Here are a few of the more common ones I’ve heard so far:

  • Lose weight.
  • Get back in touch with someone.
  • Find a job.
  • Find a job that one actually enjoys.
  • Go back to school.
  • Look on the bright side of things.

I have always enjoyed New Year’s resolutions. The New Year invites us to start with a clean slate. As a result, we can begin each year with a new outlook, new goals, and new opportunities. My resolution, however, is a little bit different.

Recently, Marquette’s College of Education tweeted about an article that talked about teaching and learning from mistakes. The article talked about how important it is for teachers to help students strive for success. At the same time, teachers should also be aware that sometimes allowing the students to make mistakes will actually teach them more. Telling a student exactly how to write and structure a paper is important. However, providing a student specific feedback and explaining why it is important to structure a paper this way has a greater impact. Allowing students to make mistakes also holds the students accountable for their own learning. It was very intriguing to hear this viewpoint.

I must admit here that I am, without a doubt, a slight perfectionist. When I handwrite posters or thank-you notes, I obsess over whether my handwriting is straight enough. I will restart a paper numerous times if I think it isn’t up to par. I will stress out about an assignment or exam until I get the grade back. The same thing could be said about my counseling abilities. I will worry about whether I said the right thing or not; whether I asked the right question; whether I am actually challenging the client’s emotions or just letting them be. And, being a perfectionist, I wonder what it takes to be a perfect counselor.

This article, however, is making me realize that there is more to counseling (and to life) than just doing everything perfectly. While it’s good to strive for excellence and perfection, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are human. We are bound to make mistakes. However, that does not mean that we are bad counselors. The only way we will not succeed at being counselors is if we refuse to acknowledge and learn from our mistakes. If we are able to take our mistakes and use them to our advantage – really understand why we made this mistake and what we can do to prevent it in the future – we will learn so much more. Not only about ourselves as people, but ourselves as counselors. I hope that with this new knowledge, I will be able to start forming my own philosophy on counseling and integrate this idea of exploration and learning into it. My resolution is to embrace the mistakes, learn from them, and use them to help others.

As Confucius said: “Our greatest joy is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Hope you all have a Happy New Year (and good luck with those resolutions.)

A Resolution for Revolution in the Classroom

By Nick McDaniels — Though my teaching career is still very young, I have become well aware of the vast amount of private corporate interest in public schools that allows a few to profit from the inadequate educational opportunities of many. The students I teach in what is considered by many to be a failing district, conservatively 80% of them receiving free or reduced meals and 96% of them being from minority backgrounds, are the recipients of the efforts of many corporations, consultants, and “non-profits” to “improve” public education.

Corporations, sometimes as consultants, sometimes as testing vendors, sometimes as ed. tech. suppliers, sometimes as textbook providers, sometimes as teacher-trainers, and sometimes as school managers, have flooded urban districts and have absorbed a large part of the meager public funding that is allotted to the schools and our children and in return for our tax dollars have made at best slightly recognizable gains in standardized test scores. These realities are no secret to many working in urban school districts, but a troubling fact remains. The contracts given to these corporations continue to grow, yet the opportunities provided to our children do not.

And then the most troubling fact still remains. The worse our schools perform, the fewer opportunities our children receive, the more opportunity these corporations have to make money. This creates an economic relationship that I am not sure economists have yet defined, at least I didn’t learn it in Econ 101,   as the quality of a product decreases, the demand for the product increases. In other words, the worse our schools perform, the more money we will provide to corporations who claim to be able to improve them, thus providing a an incentive for corporations to continue to provide products that ensure our the failure of our schools.

In the spirit of these facts, here is my New Year’s resolution. I will provide opportunities for my students to research and challenge the educational system, which does not appropriately serve them, for the sole purpose of making it better. It is only by empowering our students and their parents to take control over the way their schools are run, that we will see school improvement.

As I sadly watch my students willingly accept the test preparation exercises that I am guilty of providing (remember, my students this year were just starting school at the onset of NCLB), I can’t help but realize that the education we have provided for these children has been inadequate and will remain that way unless we revolutionize the way we teach and where we direct our resources.

I am not promising a boycott of testing and corporate influence in my classroom (I love my job too much. Though I promise not to actively support the expansion of either), but rather that I will manipulate my curriculum in any way that I can to ensure that my student have the skills necessary to become activists for the own future and advocate for a better education for all. My co-teacher and I have launched our first ever mini-unit on activism and advocacy which will provide our students with the basic skills necessary to launch campaigns against racism, sexism, heterosexism, speciesism, religionism, ageism, and classism. Our hope is that these skills will be transferable to any injustice our students come across. Trust me, the injustice of their own inadequate education is no mystery to them as they were born in the same year the textbooks they use were printed.

It is clear to me that if we are going to have a successful educational revolution in the country, the students, the ones who are hurt by inadequate education, not the corporations, the ones that benefit from inadequate education, will be the ones to lead it. In order to do this, we need to put our financial resources in the hands of no one but our students and parents, who, with good inspiration and guidance, will fix the system that has underserved them for so long and will force educational profiteers to search for work elsewhere.

Teaching Resolutions to Keep

By Peggy Wuenstel — One of my favorite aspects of the teaching profession is that it provides us with many opportunities to start again. We are able to begin anew, after each month, after a break, a quarter or a semester, and although it doesn’t line up exactly on January 1st, we rejoin the world for traditional resolutions. Things that haven’t gone particularly well can be reinvented. Items that we have forgotten to incorporate in lessons can get their due.

It is essential that we teach students the processes of review, revision, and reinvention not only by our words but by our actions. There is no better time than the New Year to put this into practice. I always make personal resolutions, usually involving weight loss, exercise and healthy diet, keeping my house cleaner and my life better organized. This year I am making several teaching resolutions as well

Have Fun  I want to  take the time to play games, go places, read engaging literature, be silly. This process of educating children is serious business and it is becoming more so. A recent TIME magazine cover story touted the positive aspects of STRESS! We need to remember that our students need the restorative features of fun, hilarity, play, and stress release. The power of peak experience, described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book FLOW reminds us that we will forever recall those moments in which we felt supremely successful, unconditionally accepted, and blissfully happy. Let’s hope we can provide several of those moments for our students this year.

Limit the Criticism It shuts kids down and doesn’t teach them anything. Instead, praise what you like, model what you want to see. The Conscious Discipline approach outlined by Dr. Beck Bailey suggests the replacement of the traditional STOP language that we employ to a statement of what we would like to see in those we interact with. “Stop touching me” becomes “Please keep your hands to yourself” and “Stop talking 1!”becomes”Please listen carefully to the directions I am going to give you.” Even our voices become quieter and gentler when we make these changes. Related to this resolution is the idea that our positive language should have specificity and purpose. I am of the belief that “Good job!” without accompanying detail can shut things down as rapidly as criticism. When we take the extra few seconds to say what we liked and offer the map to doing the same thing again, we provide far more than a pat on the back.

Lead by Example Do tasks together. When we show a child what we want, we are more likely to get it. Read for pleasure, revise your work, admit mistakes, volunteer, be an example of character. My students love to tell me, “I saw you at church on Sunday”. We live in a world where we often tell others to do what we are unwilling to do ourselves. The New Year is a time to change that.

Have Reasonable Expectations It is essential for educators to learn and remember behavioral expectations. What we want is not always realistic, at least not in the time frame that we allow ourselves or that society expects us to perform within. We need to set our children up for success, not failure by designing activities that allow students to complete them successfully and adding challenge in achievable steps. Doing our best to incorporate the research in neurology, cultural influences, pre-requisite skill development, and motivation makes both teachers and learners thrive.

Expect that Not All Progress is Linear Two steps forward and one step back is the way teaching goes much of the time. If it was a formula or a recipe, everyone could do this job well. It requires attention, analysis and adaptation and all often on the fly. It asks us to be flexible, optimistic, and persistent.

I guess this was a pretty substantial list of resolutions after all. My best wishes to you all for a blessed holiday season, and productive New Year, one filled with all the gifts you need to share yourselves with others in the coming year.

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