Chris Jakicic

Chris Jakicic, EdD, an author and a consultant, was principal of Woodlawn Middle School in Illinois from 1999 to 2007. She began her career teaching middle school science.

What Have You Resolved to STOP Doing?

Every year, we make resolutions for the new year about things we plan to do, and many of us have failed at these resolutions only a few weeks or months into the new year.  This year, I’m planning on resolving to STOP DOING things that have become bad habits.  If we think about this, most of us know that there are at least a few things we should eliminate from our professional list of ineffective behaviors.


For example, are you giving formative assessments in your classroom that you don’t have time to respond to?  This is a waste of instructional time. Formative assessments are meant to guide instruction, so resolve to use the results to plan the next few days. To get me started thinking about this topic in more depth, I recently challenged a high-performing team I was working with to develop a similar list including some of their own resolutions or some they have stopped doing in the past.  Here are their ideas:


  • Stop teaching topics that don’t align to your current essential standards.  Some teams have curriculum that they’ve used for years but that no longer is aligned to the standards they are to guarantee.  They need to eliminate this content to make time for the most important standards.
  • Stop using multiple choice questions to assess rigorous learning targets. When assessing rigor, it’s important for the team to be able to see students’ thinking in the answers to their assessment questions. That doesn’t happen with multiple choice questions.
  • Stop using intervention time to support content that is NOT on the essential standards list. This time is precious and should be used to support student learning on the most critical learning.
  • Stop responding as individuals rather than as a collaborative team when students need help.  Sometimes, to save time, individual teachers will respond to their common formative questions in their own classrooms.  However, the value of having different ideas and viewpoints makes the collaborative response far more effective.
  • Stop considering “peer tutoring” as a way to enrich students who can benefit from challenge.  If we know that the student has learned an essential standard, there is no benefit to that student in teaching it to a peer. When Marzano (Marzano, et. al., 2001) talks about “reciprocal teaching” he is talking about teaching something while the student is still in the process of learning it.
  • Stop using assessment and response with your “bubble kids” differently than with other kids.  The idea of identifying students on the bubble comes from a failed strategy that suggested we could raise our school/district test scores by focusing on students who were close to proficiency.  The inference was that some students were too far away from proficiency and would take away all of the resources we had.  ALL students should be included in our systematic responses—some students will get additional help, some will get more practice, and some will get enrichment.
  • Stop forgetting to re-assess after we’ve given students extra time and support on essential standards.  When we guarantee that all students will have learned essential standards, we must have evidence that this is so.
  • Stop allowing assessment to be something we do TO kids, rather than something we do WITH them. Hattie’s list of effect sizes (Hattie, 2012) has student involvement in assessment as the most powerful strategy teachers can use. Make sure students know what the targets are for their learning, that they know where they are currently on the proficiency scale, and that they know what their role is in moving toward proficiency.

Has your collaborative team created a new year’s resolution for what you will STOP doing?  Take some time this January to reflect on your best practices as well as the things that are not moving student learning forward in your school.


Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers. New York, NY: Routledge.


Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-based Strategies for increasing Student          Achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 


Chris Jakicic

Casie, You've learned one of the most important "stop doing" lessons! Making sure we're focused on the essential standards is such an important part of the PLC philosophy. I'm sure some of your students might be ready for more, and those topics might make great extensions. I'm glad you added your comment and hope lots of other teachers listen--time is the most precious resource we have!

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Casie Redman

I just completed my second year of teaching and I am so glad I found this article. As beginners we sometimes forget we have established patterns ALREADY and we may need to stop them. I am between schools right now and have been doing a lot of self reflection what I can do better next year, no matter where I am teaching. One thing I am guilty of doing is peer coaching/learning. In a lot of ways this can be wonderful for young adolescents, however I am not sure if I am always doing it right. Working with a friend seems like a great way to motivate students but sometimes they just end up talking to their friend and copying of each other, which is not what I want. I also noticed the higher kids who want to be liked by everyone will suddenly have 5 students who want to "work" with them and then again more copying. I am not going to stop using peer learning altogether however I am going to tweek how I do it.

The other thing I need to make sure I am mindful is getting caught up in what the book says. I taught 8th grade math which is a lot of stuff! One thing my students were so confused on was geometric proof writing (I don't blame them!). I spent some much time reteaching the kind of proofs and how to write a proof. They just weren't getting it. I looked through the standards, they need to know how to prove Pythagorean Theorem and how to write a proof for Pythagorean Theorem! Well that is completely different than geometric proof writing. I focused on that and making Pythagorean Theorem fun. Almost all of my students said they thought Pythagorean Theorem was one of the most fun things we did all year and they felt very confident!

Thank you very much for this article! I think it is good for teachers to read as we recharge this summer and get ready for next year.

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Chris Jakicic

I'm so impressed that first year teachers are taking the time out for reflection about their practices! I am always amazed and grateful for the excitement and energy new teachers bring to our profession.

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Tori Havens

Chris, I am a first year teacher for twenty amazing kindergarteners and your blog caught my eye! Although this is my first year teaching, I am a person that constantly reflects! Using students to teach other students, not providing a reflection time for my students after assessments, and teaching topics that don't align to essential standards that need to be covered.

I am guilty of using another student that is considered "higher" to help other students understand content. Although they can be helpful to students, the "higher" students is still learning about specific content as well. I have to change this from a student teaching another to students collaboratively working together through their learning process.
I have noticed that throughout the year thus far, I have begun to switch from just assessing a student and moving on to now showing my students there strengths and areas that can be difficult for them and talking through those skills and learning to understand why something is difficult for that specific student. From this, I provide more effective instruction from getting an insight into their thinking. Instead of reading through assessment and then just reteaching specific skills, I can now teach specific skills but in a way that is more understandable to the learner.
Lastly, I initially began creating lessons for word work and providing emphasis on word families. My students initially must learn about letters individually and letter sounds before I can even begin discussing word families. Although learning about word families is beneficial, learning letter sounds was essential. This is something that has to be learned before jumping into word families. I believe that now through this first year, I can take a step back, think about what I am doing and decide if those actions are appropriate in helping my students.

Thank you for sharing this Chris! Very Insightful!

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Carmen Bento

As a new teacher this blog post can help me to weed out practices I am using that have been proven as ineffective by other educators. In the hurry and bustle of learning as I go I want to stop myself from creating bad habits and use my teaching time wisely so that all of my students learn and grow. I feel like this post would be a great post to reflect on two or three times a year to provide a self-assessment and reflection tool for my classroom efficiency and practices. I think it is so wonderful that blogs and other forms of social media are allowing so many experienced educators to share their knowledge with those of us that are still finding our way!
Carmen Bento

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