Pressing the "RESTART" Button on the School Year
Remember that "fresh year, fresh classroom" feeling that you had at the beginning of the school year?
Your classroom was so organized, wasn't it? Everything was crisp and new. You had BIIIIG plans for curriculum and classroom management, right?
So, let me ask you - how's that workin' for ya?
If you're like me, you often get to January and just wish you could restart and reinstate all those great plans, ideas, and most DEFINITELY that crisp, clean classroom that welcomed your students in the fall.
Well - why can't you? Why CAN'T you just "restart?" What's stopping you?
If you're feeling less than satisfied about how your year is going, then, by all means - PRESS THE RESTART BUTTON! It's the PERFECT time to do so.
Your students are coming back after a long break, and they'll need a refresher anyways. You might as well take advantage of that and give them a little "Back to School Boot Camp!"
We as teachers need a little boot camp-ness, too. Let's be honest - those cute filing drawers we put together in August could use a little TLC. And - your teacher desk (also known as "that pile of papers") could use a little attention as well.
I encourage you to take this first week or two in January to make sure you've got all your ducks in a row so that you can finish out the school year strong! Before long we'll be talking about wrapping up the school year and summer plans (right after the snow melts, of course!)
LET'S FIRST TALK ABOUT THAT CLASSROOM:
classroom theme or color scheme, but then never finished it? Or, maybe you'd like to start one. You don't have to wait until next year! After a few months in your classroom, your students will appreciate a new look and feel. Adding a theme or color scheme to your classroom in January breathes new life into your classroom. The problem with doing it in January is you don't have the ample time that you had over the summer to leisurely decorate your classroom.
That's where my Classroom Theme and Color Scheme Decor Collections come in handy. With a little printing (and laminating, if desired) you can add a little pizzazz to your classroom with minimal effort. And - you can pick how little or how much you want to add to your classroom now, and save the rest for later (Consider it a head-start to next year's decor planning!).
If your room doesn't need a complete over-haul, then considering adding a few decor elements to your reading corner, updating your schedule or job board, or even just adding a fresh set of labels to your supplies or book bins. A little change can make a big difference, and your students will definitely take notice. It's a great way to draw new attention to an over-looked area of your classroom.
REFRESHING YOUR ROUTINES AND PROCEDURES:
I don't know about you, but without fail, my students would return to school in January after break and magically forget when it was appropriate to sharpen a pencil (hint: NOT while I'm giving directions) or when they are allowed to use the restroom. I know I'm not alone. That's why January is the perfect time to review those routines and procedures that you had running like clockwork (OK, mostly running like clockwork) before holiday-craziness set in. Check out this post I did this summer that had a FREE CHECKLIST for all the important routines and procedures to cover with your students. It wouldn't hurt to go over how to line up correctly before lunch one more time :)
MASTERING YOUR READER'S AND WRITER'S WORKSHOPS:
Reading and writing instruction takes up a huge part of your school day, so don't let another chaotic moment go by where you feel like your students aren't getting their reading and writing needs met. If you've been trying to get reader's and writer's workshop up and running, but still feel like you're spinning your wheels, then perhaps its time to take a step back and make sure you've set a solid foundation. This summer on the blog, I discussed in great detail how to launch reader's and writer's workshop from the ground up.
You can read those posts here:
Launching Reader's Workshop
Launching Writer's Workshop
And, if you need a little extra support, you can check out my "Getting Started" Series for Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop.
RECONNECT WITH YOUR STUDENTS' FAMILIES:
I know, I know...the intention was there.
You TOTALLY meant to make time in your schedule to make phone calls home once a week with "positive reports" about your kiddos. You didn't want to just be contacting parents when their child flipped out on a classmate, or forgot to do their math homework....again. But you got busy. Please - you don't have to tell me. I get it. It's reeeallly hard to stay connected. However, you don't have to call it quits on trying! In fact, there are actually some easy ways to touch base with your students' families. This post has 5 ways to get back on track with parent-communication and keep them up-to-date on classroom happenings. Even adding in just ONE of these ways can make a big difference with your school-to-home relationships.
Now - get ready to finish your year strong! You've got this!
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