Teaching Trenches: To Do Upon Returning


Most individuals under the age of 22 consider September their new year, otherwise known as a fresh start. This may be the reason why so many college students view December 31st as a reason to lose complete control of one’s actions and engage in activities they may regret come January 1st, because really, one doesn’t grasp the concept of “New Year” until they’ve landed a job and the concept of summer vacation is just a memory. Unless of course, you’re a teacher. I have a hard time internalizing the new year because it seems unnatural to adopt new habits in the middle of a school year. However, I’ve found that it’s a time to refresh, buckle down, and tighten up in a few areas. While the picture featured above adds to my anxiety, rather than decreasing it, there are a few things on my to-do list to kick off the New Year at school:
1. Review your rules, procedures, AND expectations. This is incredibly important after a week lacking structure and brain stimulation. I also take advantage of the “expectations are now raised”, let’s start gearing up for the next grade level-opportunity.

2. Make sure you, your students, and parents are on the same page. In an ideal world, I print grade sheets right before the holiday break so that any make up work can be completed over break. I’d by lying if I said this happened every year. So, why not start the year fresh with printed grade sheets that must be signed by parents so that all three parties are on the same page.

3. Implement ONE new practice you’ve had your eyes on. This is how anchor activities, daily preview and review of lesson objective and goals, and reflection activities have found a way into my classroom. Sometimes September isn’t the best time to implement 18 new strategies into your repertoire. In January I make a concerted effort to focus on one addition to my class and push through to June when I evaluate the effectiveness and decide if I’ll keep it, tweak it, or completely trash it.

4. Update outlook calendar & reminders. I rely on my calendar for all weekly meetings (sending out invitations&reminders to the members on my committees), tasks that need to be accomplished by a certain date, colleagues birthdays, emailing home grade reports, etc. Do it! It will make “forgetting tasks” a thing of the past.

5. Clean out your email box, update parent emails. About twice a year I take time to update my parent emails because they always bounce back when I send home my twice monthly reports. Also, archive old email, save files, and start with a fresh, empty box!

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