Preparing for The New Year Halfway Through the School Year

Break times, whether they be summer break, weekends, or longer seasonal breaks, should definitely be used to rest, recharge, and spend time with family and friends. If you’re anything like me, a few days of that and a few days of getting work done is the best mix when there is any time off. There are so many decisions to be made during the work weeks and workdays that when we have nothing scheduled and time to just sit, I am able to get a lot done. I review and edit our to-do lists and organize them by priority. Wants and needs amongst the to-do lists is also something that helps me visualize what must be done with my time and what can be saved for next time. In this post, I will discuss how I spend my time “off” which helps make the everyday work life just a little bit less hectic.

What does our pacing guide say?

Reviewing the pacing guide and looking at the upcoming unit themes, days off, special days, and the focus for each week helps get my mind wrapped around the future and thinking less about the past. I am someone who enjoys reflecting on lesson plans, data collection, progress learners are making, etc. the reflections that I keep help me understand what worked, what failed, and tells me how I can improve in the future. Reviewing the pacing guide then leads me into lesson planning and getting that all finished and ready to go. Reviewing the pacing guide also leads me into making a list of classroom items that can be put away or swapped out, such as toys, work bins, books for independent reading, goal materials, individual learning bins, etc.

What materials need to be prepped?

We all know that even when we try our hardest, materials that are used by students tend to rip, crumple, and lamination comes off. This is the perfect time to look through icons for PECS and schedules that may need updating or that may need to be made new so that we can introduce them after break. We also get the first few weeks worth of lesson plans done. This way, there is a little less stress after break, and it is one thing done. If the materials aren’t prepped for everything we have included in our lesson plans, now is a wonderful time to get them done, or at least started!

The last item that I review material wise are the accommodations and supports that we use in the classroom per individual learner. I look and see if anyone is ready to move on to a newer prerequisite independent workstation. I also look and see what accommodations we use per student during large groups and what might be removed or probed to increase independence. Not only do we review all of the supports and systems that are already in place and see if they need to be modified or removed, but it is also perfect time to review the learner’s data and see if any supports or strategies are missing that we’d like to baseline and implement through the first few weeks back at school.

Break Time Challenges 

One wonderful educator that I follow on teachers pay teacher is All About The ABCs. Here you will find their wonderful winter break challenge which breaks down many tasks teachers and educational team members hope to embark on breaks and days that they’re not in the building. What was so wonderful this year was looking at the in-person teacher column versus the telehealth teacher column. The structured out days that they share in this free PDF is so helpful for me to get a little bit done each day so that I feel prepared and ready to go when it is time to get back to our busy schedule of meeting with other professionals and teaching our learners! Some examples that you will find within the breakdowns are: 

  • Plan any daily warm-ups. Will you need any hard copies? 
  • Plan and prep your upcoming monthly newsletters.
  • What additional teaching slides or charts will you need the first week you return?
  • Go through your email and make any calendar appointments that you need for the first week back.
  • Take down any holiday décor, bulletin boards you no longer need. Update all of the references you may have around the classroom. 

Lastly, take some time and reflect on how you did with what was given to you. I like to sit back and think about the progress that my learners have made. I think about how their growth has impacted me and keeps growing my love for doing what I do. I make sure that my team and I continue to advocate for our learners and remind everyone on my team how much they are appreciated and how well the students are doing because they’re on the team.


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