Monthly Archives: December 2015

5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Teacher Should Make in 2016

checklistThe fall semester is done, end of year evaluations are complete, and now you sit to reflect.  However, one thing remains – to make resolutions for 2016.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, the top 10 resolutions for 2015 were:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less/save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit/healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family


Do these resolutions sound familiar?  While these resolutions focus on personal growth, December also marks a time to make career resolutions.  Who do you aspire to be in your teaching, instruction, or position?  What type of person do you aspire to be?


If you are anything like me, at the end of the semester I reflect on my semester failures and successes.  My immediate response is to create a mental list of things to improve on such as,

“Next semester I will do ___ before the semester starts.”

“No problem, I’ll do ______ during the break time to.”

“I’ll start early next time”

“I will do that activity/assignment next semester.”

“I will never do ____ again.“

With each passing day, the list fades away and gets tucked away in the back of my mind never to be found again.


Resolutions help achieve personal and professional goals.  A recent article by Laura Garnett ( described New Year resolutions made by “truly remarkable CEOs.”  The longer I read the article, the more parallels I could see between the resolutions of company leaders and teachers.  We should also think strategically as CEOs do.  So what can we learn from the resolutions of CEOs?  Keep reading to find five resolutions teachers should make in 2016.


Five Resolutions Teachers Should Make in 2016

Make a strategic change in 2016 to become the teacher you aim to be. It’s time!


1. Meet a new person every week (16 week semester)

Network.  A typical semester spans 16 weeks.  The goal is realistic and accomplishable – meet 16 people in one semester.  CEOs take the people-first attitude very seriously.  They are focus on their employees and make them engage in their work so all could benefit.

How?  Get out of the office/classroom.  Talk to people inside/outside of your department.  Attend university functions or activities, sit on committees, or go to training events offered by your school to meet someone new every week.


2. Learn something new every day (blogs, podcasts, public radio, etc.)

Teachers are lifelong learners, but how intentional are you to learn something new every day?  Make it a point something daily in/outside of your field.  Read a blog, tune in to a daily/weekly podcast, listen to public radio, read the newspaper, etc.


3. Focus on the long-term, not the short-term

Resolutions most often focus on getting quick and immediate results.  Lose 10 pounds.  Prepare a manuscript.  Attend a workshop.  Instead, pick a resolution that helps you reach long-term success.  Be strategic about your time, invest in your skills, and plan for personal/professional growth.


4. Be a better mentor and connect with your own mentors

Commit to being more engaged in your mentoring (Statistic Brain).  Be strategic about the mentoring you give others and about the mentoring you seek for yourself.  Mentoring is the key to success in any field or discipline.  Make it a resolution to engage your students in quality mentoring and/or to reach out to your own mentor.


5. Find your zone and do work that inspires you

You do great work when you operate in your zone.  Your zone is the place where you face challenges with excitement.  The zone is about putting your talent inline with your purpose.  This is where you do your best work – at the point where you find fulfillment and feel completely engaged.  Are you in the zone or working towards it?


Decide today to make 2016 the year to make your work matter.  Align your zone with your personal purpose.  Be strategic and resolve to make it happen.


Editor’s Note:  And decide to participate in the American Physiological Society Institute on Teaching and Learning in Madison, WI sponsored by your APS Teaching Section and the Physiology Educator Community of Practice June 20-24, 2016 (see!


Jessica Ibarra





Jessica Ibarra received her PhD and postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Jessica is an assistant professor at the University of the Incarnate Word. She has taught undergraduate anatomy and physiology, medical physiology, general biology, and graduate courses in physiology and neuroanatomy. Her experiences include student-centered teaching strategies, health profession student advisement, K-12 science outreach, and studied inflammation in cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Jessica was recently appointed to anatomy faculty to teach the anatomical sciences in the Masters of Biomedical Sciences program in the UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family and running.

Can We Teach Physiology Without a Textbook?

teacher booksI was going to teach an undergraduate Exercise Physiology course titled Biology of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases this fall and per usual, I searched for the best textbook available.  I was excited when I identified a textbook with approximately 1400 pages that covered almost all of the topics that I intended to cover but I noticed that I was only going to use about 1/10th of this text’s content, and the cost of the book would be over $100! By the time I was assigned to teach this course, the deadline for the textbook request from the university bookstore had past, and the faculty member who also taught this course used supplementary readings.  I was lost! I have always depended on a good textbook for teaching both physiology and pathophysiology courses. I love the illustrations in the text, and in my opinion, each of the images are worth thousands of words. Another advantage of using the text is the organization of the content. I had to take matters in my own hands. Recent technological advances and easy access to resources led me to create my own e-book using open resources in the past for the undergraduate physiology course. Still, that text would not have been everything for this course. Consequently, I had no choice but to pull the details from a variety of sources and pack PowerPoint slides full with details. After all this, I can see the need for developing an e-book specifically for this course. It certainly has its advantages as there is no cost for the students and is designed by the professor teaching this course so that the content is organized in the manner it would be taught. Department led peer-review could strengthen the e-book framework further.

There is no doubt that there are excellent audio and video resources besides readings to complement teaching today but the reading level of the articles may be way beyond the target audience.  Moreover, the variations in the writing style—some technical, some anecdotal—can turn students away.  Students in the medical sciences do need dependable resources, and there are excellent textbooks to choose from to support their learning.  Unless one can create course material utilizing open resources that would mimic a standard text, the use of a textbook simply provides much assurance to the students besides relying solely on lectures.

I would certainly assign a textbook, whether it is created using various resources or not, for my graduate and undergraduate students who are pursuing health careers to ensure that the information is in the text even if I were not able to discuss every topic in class. Some students depend on it more than others but if it helps students learn, why take it away?







Chaya Gopalan received her PhD in Physiology from University of Glasgow and completed two years of postdoctoral training at Michigan State University. Chaya is interested in pedagogical research studying innovative teaching methodologies to include Team-based Learning (TBL), Case-based Learning and Flipped Classroom. Her current project is related to the use of recorded lectures to replace live lectures on student performance and the
impact of flipped classroom style of teaching on student performance.