It’s a New Year! Its time to celebrate. Not because it is the start of the school year, because it is the beginning of the rest of the school year. The Christmas break is a great time to relax, enjoy the holidays with family and worry less about work. Once New Year’s day rolls around and the celebration and fun is over, the reality of heading back to the classroom kicks in. This reality doesn’t have to be a dreading one. Yes, we’ve gotten used to waking up whenever we want and yes, we’ve gotten used to the idea of spending our days the way we want.
Now that we’ve had our fun and that time is over, we have to start thinking about the remainder of the school year. Use this time away from the classroom to reset and recharge. Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for the rest of the amazing school year that awaits you:
Create space for change
The thought of heading back to work after the holidays could be difficult to think about. To beat these feelings think of the things that will excite you about your classroom. Ask yourself, “What can I change? What can I make better?” Establish new routines or tweak old ones that are already in place. Maybe you want to change your students morning routine by adding a bell-ringer to spiral skills already taught, or add 10 minutes of morning work to the schedule. Making a small change can get you excited and looking forward to something.
Speaking of change, you may have found that something that seemed to be previously working in your classroom is no longer working. Brainstorm ways to improve it or replace it with something you’ve always wanted to try. This time of year is the time to improve on instruction and brainstorm ways to make it better. Try changing up the desk arrangements in your classroom, or create a new seating chart. Either way, thinking of a way to change-up your classroom or routines can help beat the end of the holiday blues.
Plan or review your curriculum map
The beginning of a new school year or calendar typically requires reflection. With half the school year over this is a great time to pull out your curriculum map and analyze it. Go through the first half of the year and highlight your successes, then highlight areas of improvement. Maybe there are some skills that need to be spiraled into your instruction moving forward. Think of ways to incorporate previous taught skills while implementing new ones. For example, pulling 5 minute groups to do quick dips with students will help reinforce some of those previous skills. In math you might want to pull 2 to 3 students during bell-ringer to review multiplication facts with those that are still struggling. In literature, I like to pull a few students each day to complete 1 or 2 skill related task cards to ensure mastery.
Taking a look at what lies ahead can get you excited about planning instruction and coming up with ideas on how to implement new material.
Identify any resources that you may need
By reviewing your curriculum map you set yourself up for an open mind to success. You may start to get ideas that pop into your head, which drives you to do further research. Research sites such as TPT (teachers pay teachers) or readworks.com to find new resources. If you don’t find what you need on those sites, then create use your teacher creativity skills and design your own! Let’s be honest, using the same materials each year can become exhausting, repetitive, and boring.
You may be teaching the same content, but finding new resources and ways to implementing the content can get you excited about teaching it. If you are a Literature teacher find new stories or passages to read in order to teach the skills. If you are a math teacher, come up with new games or strategies to teach fractions. Finding ways to spruce up your instruction sometimes involves changing your resources to make teaching more interesting.
Add something to your classroom
Excitement about the start of the year after a nice long Christmas break may take a little more than planning. Other than making changes to your desk arrangements, you may want to add something to your classroom. Something that will make if feel like home away from home. Maybe you want to change one of the bulletin boards in your room to reflect a new year, new attitude theme. Or, you may want to add some plants to your window seals to invite the spring into your room. Changing out your library seating or adding new books are also great ideas. Adding some accents around your walls or lights to your white board can make your room more inviting. Either way, change doesn’t have to involve spending money, there are several ways to make your classroom feel brand new again.
New Year! New Classroom?
The new year may not be the start to a new school year, but it can be a fresh start. By finding ways to spruce up your classroom, routines and resources it may become easier to head back to work after the holidays. A new year usually means change, so don’t be afraid to make those.changes. It doesn’t have to be a big change, the smallest changes can help get you excited about tackling the rest of the school year.
What are your plans before returning to the classroom? How do you plan to tackle the rest of the school year? Comment below, we would love to hear from you!