- Teaching in a Pandemic: Help Teachers, Help You - February 2, 2021
- The Importance of Feedback in Distance Learning - October 9, 2020
- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher's View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts - Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
There are so many incredible things about being a teacher. One of the many is the ability to have a fresh start. Every day is a chance to start over: reteach the lesson that fell apart yesterday, move the behavior clips back to the beginning, or even change how the desk are arranged. A new year is a perfect chance to begin again. How to use the New Year to your advantage:
First, you need to refresh yourself. The best advice I ever received as a parent: “You have to take care of you so you can be better for them.” Spend time with family. As teachers, we tend to put our family on the back burner more than we should. Papers to be graded, lessons to be planned, and parents to be called are not on this weeks to do list. Spend time with them. Be silly. Let go of all the school work and focus on the ones we love the most, but seem to put second.
Okay. I know you are not going to listen to refreshing yourself, but you should. After Santa has passed and the decorations are put away, you can reflect on the fall semester. What do you wish you could change? Think about all the things that really bothered you last semester. (One of my pet peeves is when my kids “shoot” paper into the trashcan) Everyone has different things they dislike. Is it the rough edges on the paper? Or is it the way the line up at the door? Whatever it is now is the time to make the powerpoint or a new class rule sheet. Chances are everyone will need a refresher when we get back, whether you are keeping the same students or getting a new set. Reflect on what you would like to do differently with them. Reteach them how to do EVERYTHING. How to sharpen a pencil, how to turn in a paper, how to put the name on the paper. NEVER take the mentality, “Oh they know how to do that.” They do not. Well, they do not know how to do it YOUR way. Reteach it.
Take a day to reorganize your classroom. Toss the things that need to go. Change the way the classroom looks. When the kids come back they will sense something is new. They will be a little unsure, which gives you an opportunity to mold them into the students you want them to be. Not the ones that were there before you left. A new seating chart will work wonders. Treat the first day of the spring semester like the first day of school. So what if it isn’t. Harry Wong’s First Day of School is a best seller for a reason, whether you teach kindergarten or twelve grade, it is worth a look especially if you are having classroom management problems. Make your copies and have everything set up to go. Nothing will spoil a fresh start like an unorganized teacher.
The first day back is a chance to set a new tone. Show them you are ready to take on the New Year.
Think about the teacher you want to be. Sum it up in one word. Fierce, strong, patient. Whatever your word is, make a copy of it and put it on your classroom clock. It will remind you to be this. A visual reminder will go a long way in your journey as a classroom teacher. When I would have a bad day, I would see the word strong and vow to stay that way. Anyone can be strong for a day. Then the day leads to a week, and finally, it turns into months.
Buy a journal. Reflect every day in the spring. Write about the good and the bad. This way when May comes, you have a record of what worked and what did not. So when you begin for your fresh start in the fall, you will know exactly what you need to change. In order for this to work, you MUST be honest with yourself. Was it a bad day because you didn’t plan correctly? How do you change that? Was it a bad day because the students did not understand what you wanted them to do? Again how do you change that? Leave space at the bottom of each entry, the come up with a solution.
Remember every day is a refreshing start. It is okay if have way through the semester you decided that you don’t like the way they turn in papers. Reteach your procedure, practice it with them. Fresh starts happen more than just the first of January. They happen every single day in the classroom. Give the kids a new start, let go of the past behaviors and mistakes because you want them to do the same for you.
Happy New Year!