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Resolve, Plan, Dream

I am a fan of the New Year's resolution. I know, I know, studies show that very few resolutions are kept; nevertheless, I am drawn to the idea. Nearly every year I make resolutions, and this year is no exception. I am resolved: 

  • I will write at least three blog entries a month​.
  • I will finish scoring senior papers by February 16th​.
  • I will run a half-marathon on February 27th. 
  • I won’t buy clothes or shoes until I’ve finished paying for my CDs*.
  • I will revise senior presentation protocols and AP boot camp.

*I am allowing myself the possibility of buying running shoes, should the need arise. 

This year for the first time I found time to bring my love of resolutions to my classroom. I managed to get a whole week ahead during the fall semester, so on the first day back from Christmas break I devoted the entire period to guiding my students through a process I called "Resolve, Plan, Dream."

I started by telling them about my brilliant cousin Tammy, who is the best 1st grade teacher in the world, and who inspires me to teach to the the heart and not just to the head. I told them that Tammy inspired the lesson we were about to do.

Next, I showed them last year's "two-word resolutions," which I wrote about in a blog entry here. I gave them about five minutes to craft their own two-word resolutions. (They seemed to engage willingly and enthusiastically in this writing process.) Toward the end of their writing time I asked them to select one of these resolutions and to write it on the whiteboard on my side wall. I loved watching this wall fill with text throughout the six periods of my day.

Next we moved into the "plan" part of this lesson. I pointed out that while I like those two-word resolutions, they lack any real specificity, and that truly effective resolutions need to be tied to a plan. That's when I shared the resolutions I listed on the top of this entry. I gave students another five minutes to write their own plan-based resolutions. Then they had this instruction: share at least one of your plans with two different people in class (and be sure to cross the aisle to share with someone you might not typically talk to). 

Finally, I told my students this: "It's time to dream. Sometimes we have to forget the practical, the plans, the resolutions. Sometimes we need to just let our minds imagine the amazing, the too good to be true." Then I shared these dreams:

  • Make $10,000 in CD sales​ in 2016
  • Break 8-minute mile and 2-hour half-marathon
  • Get a job offer so challenging and lucrative that I’m at least tempted to take it.
  • Fall in love with a guy who is smart and funny (and thinks I’m smart and funny).

I gave them another five minutes to write. 

I discovered a long time ago that if I say "is anyone willing to share?" I typically get a handful of students who will share their ideas or their writing in class (and it's usually the same handful every time). On the other hand, if I go around the room and call on each student--giving each one a personal invitation to share--nearly all of them will share or read. In most of my classes I had time to do this, and the results were so beautiful. I got to hear so many dreams--such beautiful dreams. 

It was a spectacular way to return from our break, and I am resolved to find time to do this every year from now on.


  1. Love this! I love to goal set with my students!!

    1. Thank you, friend! I haven't done something like this before. I need to do it more!

    2. I know that you so naturally teach to the heart on a regular basis.


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