5 New Years Resolutions for Teachers

As the new year rolls around, it’s natural that we all start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions. A chance for a fresh start and revitalized energy. Unfortunately, we can all be guilty of setting resolutions that aren’t quite realistic, and while dreams of grand changes for the year ahead can feel inspiring, we can’t always follow through. To help make this year different, here are some more realistic New Year’s resolutions for 2022…

1. Declutter, refresh, and reorganize.

When is there a better time to refresh the classroom, if not in January? You could donate some of your old stuff and get rid of anything broken or completely worn out. Reorganize your files and ask yourself what you really need to keep. You don’t need to do it all in a day—try to set yourself a task one week, another the next, and perhaps take advantage of the post-holiday sales to buy some new storage. You’ll be surprised at how much an organized space can positively affect your mindset.

2. Drink enough water, and make time for a proper lunch!

We commend teachers for always putting their students’ needs first, but to be at your best you also need to take care of your own needs. We know that you’re busy, and some days it can be hard to find time to even go to the toilet, but staying hydrated keeps us healthy and helps your body work better.

It’s recommended that adults drink 2 (yes, 2!) liters of water per day. To help you get closer to this goal, why not set an alarm or buy a bottle with time markings to remind you to take a few extra sips of water than you usually would.

You also need fuel in your tank for it to run, so if you struggle to make time for a hearty lunch during your working day, why not set the goal of starting your day with a good breakfast and make sure you have your favorite snacks at hand for when you do get the chance to take a break.

3. Silence the inner critic.

That little voice at the back of your head nitpicking at everything you do… tell it to be quiet. We criticize ourselves far too easily and often expect absolute perfection, but it just isn’t realistic. You don’t need to be perfect all of the time (or even any of the time)—you’re allowed to make mistakes or have a bad day and know that you’re still a great teacher. Be kind to yourself!

4. Celebrate the little moments.

Celebrating the little moments—yours and your students—is so important. Sure, it’s great when we have an important observation, and it goes spectacularly, but what about those every day aha! moments? A student understands that tricky concept they’ve been struggling with, or—and it really can be as small as this—you managed to finish your morning coffee while it was still hot! Celebrate all of those moments because they’re all worthy of celebration.

5. Remind yourself often why you became a teacher.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the stress of being a teacher and lose the passion and drive that motivated you to teach in the first place. Why not try writing down all of the reasons you became a teacher in the first place or make a note of things that make you smile in the classroom. Find any way to remind yourself why you started and what inspires you to keep going.

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Education Talk Radio Podcast: Twig Coach Assign and Go

Twig Education’s Dr. Kim Mueller recently spoke to Larry Jacobs for another episode of the Education Talk Radio podcast. This time, Kim speaks about Twig Coach Assign and Go, as she highlights how it helps boost student learning, provides equity and access for all students, and helps encourage independent thinking.

Click here to listen to the full episode!

Twig Coach Assign and Go is the interactive science subscription to accelerate unfinished learning. Students use interactive tools with more than 3,000 bite-sized video lessons bringing engaging phenomena to life through high-quality, in-class or remote STEAM investigations—fully aligned to 3-Dimensional science standards. Twig Coach Assign and Go is a flexible and cost-effective way to save time, find out more here.

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4 Reasons You Should Practice Student-Centered Learning in Your Classroom

Did you know that after listening to a lecture for 10–15 minutes, students start to disengage from a lesson?1 Student-centered learning is a pedagogical approach that moves away from this more traditional method of teaching—where teacher instruction is the focus—to putting student interests first. Let’s take a closer look at some key reasons you should integrate student-centered learning into your classroom…

1. Student-centered classrooms foster student autonomy

In student-centered classrooms, students take ownership of their own learning—taking an active role in decision making, goal setting, and lesson planning. Of course, this doesn’t mean that students can choose not to participate in math or geography if they don’t find those subjects interesting. Instead, teachers should find ways to intertwine individual interests with the key learning points of a lesson. In essence, the educator is no longer a lecturer but a facilitator, constantly assessing how they can better create learning opportunities.2

In practice, it can be as simple as giving your students a few options on how a topic could be taught and taking a class vote. Alternatively, where possible, plan a few different activities that approach the topic from different angles and ask your students which they would like to take part in. Give them the choice and autonomy to let you know how they learn best.

2. Students learn to communicate and collaborate

Communication and collaboration is at the core of all student-centered classrooms. As students are encouraged to voice their needs, they are learning how to effectively communicate with their teachers and peers. The classroom becomes a space for problem-solving and working together—students aren’t reprimanded for asking questions, they’re encouraged to.

3. Student-centered learning approaches can increase positive attitudes in the classroom

It’s much easier to absorb information and even find learning fun when the relevance of what is being taught is clear. How can we expect young people to stay positive and focused in the classroom if, frankly, they’re bored and disengaged? Student-centered learning encourages students to be intrinsically motivated, explore real-world problems that relate to their own lives and recognize that their ideas are worthy of respect.3 The result is a classroom full of students who are excited to learn, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

4. Students develop better resilience

It can be remarkably unmotivating to feel as though we aren’t succeeding, even as adults. Now, imagine how this must feel to a young person, in an environment where they know they’re supposed to be learning, watching their peers excel while perceiving themselves to be a failure. Unfortunately, this is commonplace in today’s classrooms—where the emphasis on summative assessment strategies can result in pupils comparing themselves with one another.4

Feedback in student-centered classrooms centers around formative assessment—for example, ongoing feedback and goal-setting—enabling students to identify gaps in their own knowledge and understand where they need to develop. An abundance of evidence has shown that this type of assessment cultivates long-term resilience as the students learn that, whether or not their work is correct, it is part of their learning process.5

  1. https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/The_Routledge_International_Handbook_of/MujyDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=child+centered+learning&printsec=frontcover
  2. https://potatopirates.game/blogs/learning/why-student-centered-learning-matters-and-how-to-apply-it
  3. https://stemeducationjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40594-018-0131-6
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241465214_Student-centred_learning_What_does_it_mean_for_students_and_lecturers
  5. https://suitable-education.uk/systematic-review-confirms-that-assessment-damages-motivation-to-learn/

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Interview with Paul Downie, Royal Society of Biology’s UK Biology Teacher of the Year Award Winner

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Paul Downie. I’m a biology teacher based in Glasgow, where I’ve been faculty head of science. I’m currently on secondment developing West OS [part of the National e-Learning Offer in Scotland providing recorded video lessons created by teachers] and the creator of the Higher Biology Podcast.

You have just won the Royal Society of Biology’s UK Biology Teacher of the Year Award – the first Scottish teacher to have won. Can you tell us about the award, and why you won?

The award seeks to identify and celebrate the UK’s leading secondary teachers. For me, it provided an opportunity to reflect on my practice and share the work that I’ve been involved in over recent years. Hopefully, that work has played an important role in educating and inspiring the next generation of biologists – it’s not an award that I could have won without being surrounded by some fantastic colleagues.

What made you decide to be a biology teacher?

I like my subject, I’m passionate about it, but the biggest thing was that I wanted to leave work at the end of the day – or week – and feel like I’d made a difference. There is a lot of hard work involved in teaching, but it’s a special career, in that you get an opportunity to make a difference to others every single day, and I don’t think that there are many jobs that can give you that feeling.

Can you tell us about your teaching philosophy?

Primarily, my teaching philosophy is to enthuse young people about the subject. To ensure they understand why we’re learning something and why it’s relevant to their life. We need our young people to leave school as both responsible and informed citizens, equipped to participate in debates around global issues which will impact their lives and also to have an understanding of the world they live in.

You took a class of students on an expedition to the Galapagos a few years ago. What gave you the inspiration to do this and what was the primary goal of the trip?

I was lucky enough when studying at the University of Dundee to participate in a research expedition to Trinidad led by Professor Steve Hubbard. It had a big impact on my studies and the direction that I took after that.

It was an incredible experience. It allowed me, at the time, to play a very small part in what I believe is now the largest data set of its kind, looking at the survival rate between tropical and temperate bird species. I always said that if I had the opportunity to give pupils even a little taste of that experience, it was something I’d try to do. 

A young person in an S3 class had asked the question “could we go on a school trip to Galapagos?” and the rest of the class laughed, but the thought in my head was “why not?”

Two years of preparation, two years of fundraising and a lot of hard work by the students and everyone else who was involved, and we got the Galapagos. We wouldn’t have been able to have that experience if it hadn’t been for a range of partners, all of whom played a big role in supporting the trip and we were incredibly grateful for that support, especially our fantastic expedition shirts which were provided by Twig.

Any advice you would give to teachers planning on undertaking such a big trip in the future?

It’s certainly going to be more challenging, given the ongoing pandemic, but what I would say is that you don’t have to travel across the world to find excellent learning opportunities. It was a fabulous trip and a fabulous experience, but there are loads of great places to visit in Scotland, with amazing learning experiences, right on our back doorstep.

Tell us about The Higher Biology Podcast, and the inspiration behind starting it?

I created the Higher Biology Podcast during the first COVID-19 lockdown, really as a response to my own frustration and trying to be able to deliver a more engaging learning experience for young people at that point. Myself and my wife listened to a lot of podcasts, and I started wondering if it was possible to produce something with educational value and add depth to their learning. 

There was a lot of learning [for me] as I went and a bit of DIY, but it was good fun, and hopefully it has provided young people a platform to be able to access really interesting and fantastic subject experts from across the planet to add a little bit of depth and insight into different areas of the higher course, which has been really exciting. 

One of my own students summed it up really well, saying it’s far more interesting than just listening to me talk.

You’ve been a Twig user for a long time. What attracted you to the program?

The quality of the videos on Twig are excellent, simple as that.

How do you use Twig in your lessons?

I’ve used Twig in lots of different ways. The materials can be really good for putting a learning point into context, sharing as part of an example in a lesson, or summarising a piece of learning. They can also be useful for supporting revision as well.

There’s a lot of different ways you can use the videos, depending on what they are. I’ve certainly utilised the heart dissection videos, for example – the class can do a live dissection along with the video and we just stop and pause it on the projector and it gives a really clear visual explanation of the steps involved in the process. Then we might bring the class together to discuss different bits and have a closer look at what we’re doing, and then break back into pairs to do the dissection and get that hands-on practical experience.

You’re also a regular Twig Science Reporter user. What do you like about the news updates?

The quality of the weekly Twig Science Reporter updates are fab. They give really good weekly topical news stories and they never fail to capture the imagination and interest of my classes, particularly in the BGE. 

[I use them] at the end or the start of the week to stimulate a little bit of conversation around topical science stories that are in the news. Equally, I’ve found myself using them in assemblies or in other circumstances with larger groups of young people to take that 3, 4, 5 minute spot in the day and just focus on some different stories from around the world and use it as a stimulus to spark some curiosity and discussion. 

What is a piece of advice that you would give to young people who want to go into a career in teaching?

If you are enthusiastic about your subject and you’re passionate about it, and you’re looking for a career that you can make a difference in, then there is no better thing than teaching. There’s a lot of hard work, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

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¿Qué impacto ha tenido la pandemia en la educación?

Para estudiantes y profesores de todo el mundo, el último año ha sido una experiencia turbulenta. Cuando la pandemia golpeó a principios de 2020, países de todo el mundo impusieron el cierre de escuelas, con el objetivo de “volver a la normalidad” lo antes posible. Sin embargo, muchos estudiantes y profesores están aún ejerciendo la enseñanza a distancia a tiempo completo, mientras que otros se están adaptando a la educación híbrida entre la escuela y en el hogar.

A mediados de marzo de 2020, el 44% de los estudiantes de todo el mundo estaban fuera de las aulas de forma parcial o permanente, y a mediados de abril este número había aumentado al 84,5%, con casi 1.500 millones de estudiantes en 165 países afectados por el cierre de escuelas. (1) Para continuar la enseñanza durante este tiempo, los profesores tuvieron que cambiar completamente la forma en que enseñaban. Se adaptaron los recursos didácticos, se actualizaron los planes de lecciones y se introdujeron plataformas de enseñanza electrónicas, todo con el objetivo de garantizar que los alumnos no vieran afectado su aprendizaje. La enseñanza asincrónica, en la que los estudiantes asimilan el contenido de forma independiente e informan al profesor, tuvo bastante popularidad, junto con la enseñanza sincrónica, en la que el profesor imparte lecciones en línea a través de software como Zoom o Google Classroom.

Los gobiernos de todo el mundo respondieron ofreciendo guías de orientación y formación, al tiempo que proporcionaron recursos educativos gratuitos a través de la televisión, la radio e Internet. El Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles en los EUA se asoció con la red de televisión PBS para ofrecer transmisiones educativas locales, (2) mientras que la televisión nacional del Reino Unido, la BBC, lanzó una serie de enseñanza virtual llamada Bitesize Daily. (3) Mientras tanto, las plataformas de enseñanza en línea y las empresas de conferencias en línea también ofrecieron su apoyo. Por ejemplo, BYJU, con sede en Bangalore, ofreció clases gratuitas en vivo, y Lark, con sede en Singapur, ofreció a los profesores y alumnos tiempo ilimitado de videoconferencias, edición de proyectos en tiempo real y más. (4) La UNESCO trabajó con muchos países para minimizar la interrupción del aprendizaje causada por la pandemia, apoyando la implementación de programas de educación a distancia y recomendó el uso de aplicaciones educativas abiertas. (5)

Para nosotros en Twig, no hay nada más importante que apoyar a los profesores y los alumnos, por lo que hemos ofrecido contenido STEM de nuestros productos de forma gratuita, así como acceso a paquetes de educación a distancia especialmente diseñados para la enseñanza a distancia. En México, Twig Education trabajó junto con la Secretaría de Educación Pública para brindar a los estudiantes y maestros acceso gratuito a contenido STEM como: videos de ciencia, materiales educativos, planes de clase, paquetes de estudio independientes y libros de lectura en línea en español. Más de 11.000 usuarios accedieron a las plataformas Twig, Tigtag y Tigtag Junior durante el 2020 mediante la estrategia Aprende en Casa, y a partir de 2021 a través del sitio Nueva Escuela Mexicana. Además, se transmitieron 100 videos de Twig en televisión nacional como parte de la globalmente reconocida iniciativa Televisión Educativa.

Twig también ha colaborado con Ministerios de Educación en Colombia, Uruguay, Perú, Guatemala y España, ofreciendo acceso gratuito a recursos STEM para profesores y estudiantes, contribuyendo a mejorar el conocimiento científico a nivel mundial. En Colombia, apoyamos el programa ‘Jornada Única’ del Ministerio de Educación, un proyecto que tiene como objetivo reducir la brecha en la calidad de la educación entre la educación pública y la privada, mediante la extensión del horario escolar en las escuelas públicas. Los recursos de Tigtag y Tigtag Junior se han incluido en un ‘Kit de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación’, con distribución en 457 escuelas en áreas rurales.

Más recientemente, nuestros 29 libros de lectura en español fueron seleccionados por el Ministerio de Educación de Chile para ser incluidos en su Comunidad Lectora Digital, un sitio que tiene como objetivo aumentar la alfabetización en los estudiantes jóvenes proporcionándoles contenido de lectura atractivo.

De manera similar, nos sentimos increíblemente orgullosos de trabajar con UNICEF en The Learning Passport, una plataforma educativa digital personalizada para niños y jóvenes.

A febrero de 2021, 28 países del mundo mantienen cerradas sus escuelas a nivel nacional. La mayoría de los países del mundo han cerrado sus escuelas locales o bien han puesto en marcha un sistema de enseñanza híbrido en el que los estudiantes pasan algunos días en las escuelas y otros en casa. En todo el mundo, casi 222 millones de estudiantes se ven afectados actualmente. (6) Entonces, ¿cómo será el futuro?

Si bien algunos estudios muestran que los estudiantes retienen más material cuando aprenden en línea, (7) muchos otros estudios muestran la importancia de la enseñanza en persona. Según un estudio de la OECD, el éxito escolar se basa en relaciones cercanas con los maestros. (8) Naturalmente, el aprendizaje en línea ha dificultado que los maestros ayuden a quienes tienen dificultades de aprendizaje. Los estudiantes que vienen de familias desfavorecidas han sido especialmente afectados ya que no tienen un fácil acceso a dispositivos digitales, y cuyos padres no suelen poder ayudarles con los deberes. Estos estudiantes en una situación normal habrían podido utilizar el equipamiento escolar y recibir apoyo en persona de sus maestros.

Aunque es probable que las escuelas vuelvan a abrir en cuanto sea posible, la enseñanza híbrida se ha vuelto cada vez más popular y es probable que se mantenga durante bastante tiempo, si no durante los años venideros. En el futuro, los maestros tendrán que seguir desarrollando y adaptando sus métodos de enseñanza, y las empresas educativas tendrán que ofrecer soluciones creativas para asegurarse de que todos los niños reciban apoyo.

En Twig Education, continuaremos respondiendo a las necesidades de los estudiantes y educadores de todo el mundo. En los EUA, hemos lanzado Twig Distance Learning, un programa flexible de aprendizaje a distancia que admite la educación sincrónica y asincrónica, con un menú a la carta de nuestros experimentados instructores de Twig. Además, seguimos apoyando a los profesores y estudiantes de todo el mundo, mediante la mejora de nuestros recursos de aprendizaje y ofreciendo orientación sobre cómo pueden adaptarse a la educación a distancia


  1. https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse
  2. https://deadline.com/2020/03/pbs-socal-kcet-lausd-los-angeles-schools-close-1202883111/
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2020/education-teachers
  4. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/
  5. https://en.unesco.org/news/290-million-students-out-school-due-covid-19-unesco-releases-first-global-numbers-and-mobilizes
  6. https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse
  7. https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/301248/15-facts-and-stats-that-reveal-the-power-of-elearning
  8. http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/learning-remotely-when-schools-close-how-well-are-students-and-schools-prepared-insights-from-pisa-3bfda1f7/