This winter break, I moved classrooms.
From an asbestos-laden 1970’s open-concept chemistry lab into a smart new space complete with functioning fume hoods, large windows, and tables that support argument-driven inquiry. My mind has been whirring with ideas for how to start 2017 off right as students and I adjust to the wonder that is our new room. It struck me that as a teacher, this is the perfect time to make changes. Teachers and students are coming back refreshed, we all still have a bit of time before school begins to tackle a project, and we haven’t hit that end of semester rush.
Take a little time now to focus on what you need to have a successful three months to spring break. (Ooof that sounds like a long time.) I’m not talking about setting New Year’s Resolutions here, I mean a few simple tasks that you can set your mind to. February is a (seemingly) long cold month, but you can make it easier, right now!
Here we go:
Build Connections: January is not too late to bolster your connections with others!
- Reach out to students that you don’t naturally click with. I like to attempt to list all of my students in each class without peeking at a roster or even being in my room. Whomever I miss, are the students that I will make sure I have a one-on-one conversation with that month.
- Send missives home for your hardworking students. Pick out those students you know have been putting their nose to the grind and make sure their supporters at home see it as well.
- Write thank you notes to your colleagues. Your compatriots are tired too and they’ve been there to support you all year. Improve their winter with a little January cheer!
Up Your Classroom Game: Revamping your entire curriculum is best left to the summer. Just pick one thing and make it better!
- Garner Feedback from students in planning next semester. Need more info on how to get feedback? Look no further.
- Fix that one thing that has been plaguing your teaching. For me, it was the organization of my reassessments. It was draining all my energy to keep them written, updated, entered and returned. I took the few hours over winter break to fix it.
- Commit to trying one new strategy. I’m excited to give Google Cast a go when I have students research their next engineering project.
- Sign up for a summer conference or seminar. Now is the time to see what type of travel and professional development your district will pay for, or if there are any grants out there. This can be a time-consuming process, so get on it.
- Revisit your TPEP criteria. Now is a fantastic time to do a self-evaluation. Have you grown since the beginning of the year? What can you work on before your next formal observation?
- Bookmark a teaching blog. While it doesn’t have to be corelaboratewa.org, it certainly could be! Find a blog of someone that brings new insight to your grade-level or content-area.
Maintain Your Sanity: NPR recently released a story about how stressed out teachers are, so take care of yourself first!
- Prep for tax season. Collect all those receipts, know where to get the 1098-E form for your student loans, and make sure you know if you need to get your W-2s online or if you should expect them by mail.
- Make spring/summer break dentist and doctor appointments. You’ll be sure to get your preferred time and you will feel better just knowing that it is on the books.
- Mail Stuff! The hardest part of teaching? Finding time to mail a package.
- Clean your desk. Just do it.
Good luck everyone, may the odds be ever in your favor!
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