Breaks are always a healing balm that both teachers and students need to stay sane throughout the year.
Another benefit of breaks is the opportunity to start fresh when school is back in session.
However, coming back from a break can be overwhelming if you’re feeling unprepared or discouraged.
Here are 4 simple ways to help you as the teacher reset for the new semester or quarter and return to the classroom with enthusiasm!
Look for some stuff to ditch!
This might be my favorite way to reset.
Look around that classroom of yours. What one thing just makes you cringe every time you see it? That half-finished bulletin board? That stack of assignments from 2 months ago that you forgot to grade (we’ve all been there!)? Your hideous desk chair?
What if you just… got rid of it?
(No, the teacher next door, and your school computer that never has worked quite right do not qualify for this tip, sorry.)
You don’t have to go full Marie Kondo, but I’d be willing to bet there are a couple things that you could discard and not look back. You’ll feel so much better.
And if you’re like me and you’re looking for permission to do this guilt-free, this is it. You have permission to ditch that thing that’s nothing but a weight on your shoulders.
Now for the good stuff.
What attitudes, thought processes, and habits did you have as an educator in 2020 that you really don’t want to carry into 2021?
Let’s ditch those too!
Take some time to reflect (more about that next), and hit that reset button mentally.
Reflect on first semester
Everything leading up to winter break is just total insanity, so I know you probably haven’t had a chance to sit down, breathe, and think about how things went first semester.
But after you’ve rested a good long time (you earned it!), maybe on the last day or two of your break, or your first day back to work, just sit quietly with a pen and paper and write some things down. Some of my most meaningful plans and ideas have come to me while sitting alone in my classroom quietly.
Maybe take a seat in a student desk for a little while, and try to see your classroom through their eyes.
What are they struggling with?
What do they need from their teacher?
Based on these quiet times of reflection I’ve enjoyed, I put together a little worksheet to guide your semester-end evaluation, and help you craft some doable goals for next semester. Grab it for free here!
Change up the aesthetic
As a visual person, I get so much joy from just having something pretty or fresh to look at.
Consider changing a bulletin board or wall display, switching out some posters (here’s a free set!), or adding something like a potted plant (faux or real) just to have something to make you smile every day.
Grab some easy printable decor like these fun steampunk accents, or coffee shop accents, and brighten up your room. Students will appreciate it, and so will you!
If you need some ideas, take a look at my Classroom Decor Pinterest board for inspiration!
Don’t be scared to make changes
Based on your reflection and notes, make an clear action plan to implement some new things, and ditch some stuff that just wasn’t serving you and your students.
There is nothing wrong with standing up on that first day back in January and saying, “Listen up, kiddos. We’re making some changes around here in 2021!”
You won’t lose their respect for pivoting. In fact, you will gain more respect because they can see that you’ve been thinking, planning, reflecting, and you’re willing to make changes that are in their best interest.
I know it’s easy to look back on a semester and just see where you failed. It’s easy to get tired and wonder how in the world you’re going to keep showing up to school.
But I’m here to remind you that you’re doing more good than you know. I promise.
If even one student has been helped in some way, isn’t it all worth it? They’re thankful for you, they just don’t know how to say it.
Keep doin’ what you do, but don’t be afraid to step out and try some new stuff too! Here’s to 2021!
(And don’t forget your free teacher goals worksheet!)
Hey, I’d love to know, what new things are you venturing to try this year?? Will you share in the comments?