New Year's resolutions: Overrated or inspiring? For those of us who make resolution lists longer than Tom Clancy novels, they just might be overrated. But, when correctly planned and thoughtfully pursued, it's true that resolutions can bring about real change - and inspire others to do the same.
That's why New Year's resolutions at school are so powerful. When anyone - a student or staff member - takes on positive resolutions, their change can inspire the entire community. But what kind of resolutions should school staff members be making? How can they inspire students to have a productive and fun year? We propose using these six New Year's resolutions that are perfect for schools.
1. Grow a green thumb
Student gardens are growing in popularity (no pun intended). With farm-to-table movements sweeping the restaurant industry, school cafeterias are quickly following suit. Now instead of imported vegetables and canned fruit, schools with enough time and resources are creating cafeteria meals from locally- and school-grown ingredients.
If your school already has its own garden, bravo! You're an exemplary tale of the growing carbon footprint-conscious movement. But don't worry if you don't have an abundant garden yet. It takes time and resources, plus an ounce of enthusiasm to get students hooked on the idea of growing vegetables. To get your school started in 2015, try using Growing Mind's guide to starting a school garden, which includes an application to receive garden funds.
By taking a school garden one step at a time and involving students in the process (think: picking an area for the garden, selecting the foods to grow, plus regular upkeep), this is sure to be a fun and long-lasting resolution.
2. Embrace the environment
Growing sustainable food is one way to reduce a school's carbon footprint. But what about all of the paper and supplies kept on-hand? Until schools use laptops for every academic and administrative need, there will continually be a paper trail (though one of our goals is to reduce school paper trails). One easy solution is to recycle.
Back when I was in elementary school, we were lectured every week about reducing, reusing, and recycling. We got the point, but being lectured definitely wasn't fun or inspiring. So this year, commit to making recycling more fun for everyone at your school. Offer rewards to classes who recycle the most, or challenge art classes to create a masterpiece out of reused material. The possibilities are truly endless.
3. Spice up classroom routines
Who says classes need to follow the same routine everyday? Routines can wear us out, plus 8-hour days are incredibly more fun with a few bouts of exercise or an impromptu learning game. So this year, make a resolution to embrace exercise breaks and other healthy changes that could be a perfect fit for your school's classrooms. Find inspiration from other school exercise programs, or create your own moves!
4. Find a healthier work/life balance
You're probably rolling your eyes at this one, thinking, "Yeah, let me try that resolution for the eighth time." We've all been there, and it's true that finding a balance between a career and a family is difficult. As they say, though, Rome wasn't built in a day. Instead of trying to find the perfect balance by the end of the week, try taking this resolution a month or two at a time. Start with small changes such as these:
- Build downtime into your daily schedule.This could be a date night with your spouse, going to the park with friends, or reading the book you've been waiting to dive into since last July. Scheduling these plans helps you have something to look forward to when a Wednesday feels like a Friday.
- Find ways to be more efficient at work and at home. At work, come prepared to meetings with talking points and an agenda. At home, combine errands and get organized to save time on a daily basis.
- Set your priorities and stick to them. Identify your priority tasks and projects. Then, remind yourself that smaller items aren't worthy of your stress.
5. Set mini-goals to stay inspired
This is as simple as it sounds. Take any project that you're currently working on (submitting a budget, organizing a centennial celebration, or updating school technology) and break it into smaller goals. By doing this, you'll be able to see and feel your progress, instead of viewing the project as one unmanageable hurdle.
Then use what you've learned and help students and fellow staff members set mini-goals, too, with these tips for effective goal setting for students.
6. Work smarter, not harder
By now this phrase is a seasoned cliche, but it's one of our favorites at Magnus. We fully believe that time and energy can be maximized when used in a smarter way. That's why we love helping schools work smarter with our Student Medical Record software. It lets school nurses, athletic trainers, business officers, and even teachers, spend less time on administrative tasks and more time looking after student needs.
Some ideas on how to work smarter, not harder at your school during 2015 include implementing a Zero Tolerance Policy to reduce the school nurse's need to chase down student health forms, and getting a head start on re-enrollment by avoiding these common misconceptions about the process.
No matter which resolutions you try, remember to start small and to log your progress. You'll be amazed at how quickly small changes turn into big improvements.