New Year, Fresh Start

Categories: Academics | Winter

Nothing Says Fresh Start Like the New Year.

If you are reading this in December, chances are the last thing you want to do right now is think about coming back to school in January. However, now is the perfect time to take a minute to revamp your classroom for the new semester. Here are some tips for coming back and having a jump start on the new year!

New Year = Resolutions

Take a few minutes to make some resolutions for yourself and your classroom. Reflect on your self-care and set some goals for taking care of yourself. Set some boundaries when it comes to work and stick to them. Schedule time for yourself (seriously, if I don’t put it on the calendar, it doesn’t happen. Me time is non-negotiable!) and make it happen. 

While you are reflecting on changes you want to make for yourself, reflect on a few changes you’d like to make in your classroom. Maybe you need to firm up your centers. Or maybe your data needs to be organized. Whatever the case, pick a few things to tackle this semester. My newest self-care resolution? Snow days are no school work days! My school resolution? Find a way to organize alllll my art supplies…eek!

Don’t be afraid to involve your students! Make goals with them for the new year. Make a plan on how you’ll accomplish the goal and figure out what the student needs to be successful. Together, you can do it!

The New Year is the Perfect Time to Try Something New

The fall semester is so focused on rules, routines, and procedures that we can be hesitant to try new things. The new year is a perfect time to try something new! By now your students (should) have routine down and you can add in something new! Aim high! Try adding an Autism Helper Curriculum (talk about easy prep!), social skills, morning meeting, or guided reading groups. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to try something new! My goal? Nail WH questions! I’m starting off the first two weeks with The Autism Helper’s Count, Color, & Name Winter Adapted Book 

Prep Now, You’ll Thank Yourself Later

Before you leave for break, finish up your lesson plans for the first week back. Also, think through your semester and lay out your master plan. If you study units have them planned out so you know what you’ll be studying when you return. Let me be very real with you – January and February are some of the LONGEST months as a teacher. For most of us it’s winter, we have indoor recess all.the.time., and we are in the depths of IEP season and observation/evaluations. One of my former principals used to say “never do a school climate survey in February”. He was a smart guy. No one wants to be a teacher in January and February. Ease some of those burdens and get your prep on now. 

Looking for something easy when you come back? I always study Arctic animals in January. It just seems to fit the weather we experience in the midwest in January! I just prepped The Autism Helper’s Winter Adapted Books and The Autism Helper’s Winter  Vocabulary Unit. Those two things being done now will save me a TON of time when I come back to school. I’m really focusing on writing in my classroom in January. The Autism Helper’s Write About Winter Unit is PERFECT for my students and easy prep! My favorite thing I’ve prepped so far? The ‘What is the Snowman Wearing” book from the Winter Adapted book set (below). It is so cute! 

Reflect, Relax & Recharge

Come back from break ready for your students! I think we sometimes forget breaks are difficult for our students. They are out of routine, they miss the consistency of school, and many students depend on the supports school provides (breakfast & lunch, heat, water, adult attention, safety… the list goes on, sadly). Some students have waited their entire break to come back to school to see YOU! Rest up over break so you are ready to give the last 16 weeks everything you’ve got. Your students and staff feed off of your feelings – come back excited and ready to go and your students will follow your lead. Struggling to get excited about school? Come up with some things to do that are exciting to you! Branch out! Try new things! But most of all, reflect, relax and recharge over break – you deserve it!

Jen Koenig, B.S, M.Ed., LBS1
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