Resolutions for Writers Who Teach

javacia-writingResolutions for Writers Who Teach

Practice what you teach.

By Javacia Harris Bowser

Like most dreamers, I set goals and make resolutions every New Year. But as a dreamer, as a writer, who also teaches I make resolutions every August, too, at the start of the new school year. These resolutions focus on how I can be a better educator. Thus, January becomes an opportunity for me to revisit these teacher resolutions and see how I’m doing.

So far, I suck.

I resolved to create a feminist classroom. I believe all educators should all be feminist teachers. This doesn’t mean all teachers should strive to turn their classes into man-hating mini-cults because that’s not what feminism is about. It’s about encouraging your students to treat all people with dignity, regardless of gender, race, class, religion, sexual orientation, or ability and showing them how to do so. A feminist classroom is simply a place that values equality, respect, and representation and makes those values apparent every day.

But I’ll be honest. It’s hard to focus on my feminist ideals when I’m so concerned with all the papers I have to grade and all the lesson plans I have to write. That’s why instead of creating new lesson plans to help spread this message of equality, I need to simply revise what I’m already doing so the lessons in my current curriculum convey feminist ideals.

And whether you’re a teacher or not, this is something you can try to apply to your own life. Living out feminism or whatever ideals you believe in doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of your life. It could just mean being more intentional about the small things you do every day.

I resolved to embrace ritual and routine for the sake of my sanity. Most people who know me well know that I get bored easily of everyone and everything. While most people despise change, I crave it, thrive in it. This doesn’t mean, however, that I want to live a life of chaos. This school year I set out to establish certain rituals and routines so things inside and outside my classroom wouldn’t spiral out of control. Those included the following: I will write my lesson plans at least a week in advance. I will clean my classroom, update my gradebook, and email my students’ parents every Friday. I will plan and prepare my outfits for the week every Sunday.

And I was off to a great start, at first. Then the papers started to pile up and all this went out the metaphorical window and soon I wanted to throw a chair out of an actual window. Clearly, I need a routine for grading papers, too, which is what I hope to establish this semester. Once I’ve done that I believe it will be a lot easier to maintain other rituals, too.

What rituals and routines do you need to establish? What has kept you from sticking to these routines in the past?

I resolved to document my life as a teacher. For years I’ve considered blogging about being a feminist teacher and sharing more of my life as an educator on social media. This school year, I was planning to do that on my personal blog, which I abandoned once I started focusing on, the blog I maintain for my organization for women who write. I failed miserably at my attempt to blog about my teacher life on my personal blog, but did publish a few posts on See Jane Write. I’m now considering documenting my teacher life on my personal Instagram account, but I must admit I’m not hopeful. Perhaps I will simply keep a journal about being a high school teacher just as I once kept a journal about being a high school student.

And this leads me to a new resolution I’m making for the second half of the school year.

I resolve to practice what I teach. I’m always talking to my students about the joys of writing for the sake of writing and reading for the love of the written word, but am I actually doing this? Yes, I write all the time for this column, for other magazines, for the See Jane Write blog. But it’s rare that I write for myself. It’s rare that I write simply because I can’t help myself, simply for the thrill of weaving together words. So whether it’s one page or one sentence I will write in my journal every day and I will read at least a page from a book (that I’m not teaching) every night because good writers read good writing and because it’s time to stop being a writer who doesn’t write.

Consider one thing you can do every day to make this the year that you finally became the person you want to be.

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