Who doesn’t love a fresh start? We could all use one from time to time and this especially applies to teachers, who are constantly constantly giving, constantly sacrificing, constantly helping to shape the future. I hope you had a relaxing winter break and are ready to embrace all the wonderful possibilities of the new year with your students. Here are a few ideas that I hope you can use as you teach in January:
Rethink Resolutions – Confession. I’ve never kept a New Year’s resolution. I don’t remember ever shouting “I did it!” on December 31st of any year. And do I care? Not at all! I’ve learned that I’m pretty consistent when it comes to taking care of myself and making good decisions, so I’ve learned to let go of the burden of promising to do something for an entire year. Now I have what I call New Month’s resolutions, and I can honestly say I’ve kept plenty of them! Here’s how it works: Each month, I make a few resolutions. I practice yoga, so one resolution might be to practice 5 out of 7 days each week, instead of my normal 3 to 4. That’s doable for me and I know I have a much greater chance of shouting “I did it!” at the end of the month. When the month ends, I reevaluate my goals, continue, change, and/or add to them. I still make long range plans, but they’re not tied to resolutions. For me, this kind of goal setting is much more fun and flexible. As a teacher, I know you’re under enough pressure. If resolutions cause you even more pressure, consider another plan that makes sense for you!
Welcoming Students Back – In many ways, I see January as I see August. It’s the beginning of the school year, but even better! By January, the students know what to expect and you (hopefully) don’t have to spend the entire month on classroom management. A few things that have worked for me are: having consistent class meetings, changing something slightly (the schedule, a bulletin board, center rotations, reward system, etc.) to make the day fresh, and definitely raising the rigor! Also, make time to celebrate the new year with your students! You’ll learn so much about what’s important to them as you discuss their goals and dreams for the new year.
Have a Plan for Indoor Recess – Confession. I don’t like the term indoor recess and in 20 years my students never had it…at least not the version they were used to. I’m the kind of teacher who must see educational value in everything my students do. I’m sure an argument can be made that “Heads Up, Seven Up” has educational value, but I never let my kids play. Instead, I encouraged them to play board games, draw, build, write silly stories…and they loved it! What ideas can you think of that are as much fun as indoor recess?
Make Peace Practical – Everyone loves a day off. That’s how we see most holidays. I encourage you to help your students see the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday as a day ON! ON with peace! ON with love! A very simple idea for the holiday is for the teacher and students to write the name Martin Luther King, Jr. vertically on a sheet of paper. During the week and on the actually holiday, try to fill in a sentence that explains how each of you were kind to someone. For example, the M in Martin might read, “My sister asked me to borrow my headphones and I was nice and said yes”. After the holiday, share all the wonderful, simple ways you showed love and peace! I’m also including a fun, meaningful Martin Luther King, Jr. Coloring Page for your students to enjoy during the month of January! Visit my store at Teachers Pay Teachers to see the entire set. Happy January! 🙂