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10 New Things to Try in the New Year- Classroom Edition

For so many people, the New Year brings new resolutions and goals to focus on. The New Year creates the perfect time to pivot and try something new in the classroom too! The natural break creates the perfect time to shift practices and routines that might not be working in your classroom. As teachers prepare for the second half of the school year, here 10 ideas if you are looking to try something new for the second half of the year.


10. New Routines

Do you have a routine that isn't working for you? This is the perfect time to create a new routine. As students return from break there is a natural need to renorm and practice the routines that students have spent 2 weeks away from. This renorming phase is the perfect time to ditch a routine that wasn't work and introduce something new.


9. New Reward System

Classroom management is the corner stone of any classroom, and for many classrooms this includes a behavior reward system. The tricky part of rewarding positive behavior is that just like adults, not all students respond to rewards in the same way! Do your students enjoy working together as a team to earn points? Do they prefer treasure box or experience type rewards? Often times as teachers, we don't know what our learners will prefer when they come to us in August, but by mid year we have a pretty good idea. If our system is not meeting their needs and preferences now is the perfect time to change it.


8. Classroom Arrangement

This one is similar to the previous 2- if your classroom arrangement is not working or you are just wanting to try something new, the start of the second half of the year is the perfect time to do that. By the second half of the year, we know our learners so much better than we did when school started, and now is the perfect time to make moves or design a classroom space that really meet their needs.


7. Student Goal Setting

I love starting the second half of the year with student goal setting. It is a wonderful way to empower students and to help them take ownership of their learning. I encourage students to set classroom goals that will help them build their skills as a learner. For some students, these might be academic skills-like reading with accuracy. For other students, they might want to focus on learning behaviors-like keeping their cubby cleaned. Either way, it gives students a chance to focus on a goal and celebrate their achievements towards that goal!


6. Positive Notes Home

Positive notes home are a high leverage move that many teachers use at the beginning of the year to build relationships with families, but mid year is another great time to really focus on positive connections with families. Students have matured and grown since the start of the school year and there are new celebrations to share. Plus, you can't go wrong with sharing positive news...parents love hearing positive things about their children!


5. The 2 x 10

I LOVE the 2x 10 strategy for building relationships and community in the classroom. The 2x10 strategy is simple- pick 1 student in your classroom and spend 2 minutes having conversation with this student for 10 days. The goal is to connect with students in a deep and personal way. If you get new students at the beginning of the semester, this is a great way to connect with them and welcome them into your classroom. If you have a student who you are still just having a hard time connecting with, this is a great way to build connection. If you are already connected to a student, I guarantee you will still learn new things about that student over the next 10 days.


4. Morning Meetings

Morning Meetings are an absolute favorite of mine! There is something impactful about setting aside 20 minutes to start the day and come together as a classroom community to support and connect with each other. Morning meetings have 4 intentionally planned parts and extend beyond morning circle and calendar time together. All morning meetings have a greeting, an opportunity to share, an activity, and a message. They create a shared experience for everyone in the classroom and create time and space to help students enter into the learning for the day.


3. Read Aloud

The second half of the year is a great time to start a read aloud together as a class. Again, time spent reading a book aloud creates a shared experience as a community. Additionally, it models for students fluent reading and building their vocabulary and language skills (which we know are essential to reading development).


2. Professional Goals

The second half of the school year is a great time to set a new professional goal. As I reflect and prepare for the second half of the year, I like to adjust in places that were not working as efficiently as I would have liked. The year my daughter was born, my own professional goal became using my work time wiser so that I could manage to take less home- out of necessity to be present with my own children. Although it is not always possible to "leave it at work", shifting my habits really helped me be a better mom and teacher (more on that another day). Is there something you really want to try, focus on, or learn professionally? This is a great time to take the leap and try something new.


1. Self Care

My number 1 new thing to try in the New Year is teacher self care. This profession can be so hard and so demanding. It is so important to find something that pours back into your own cup. It can be something small- but finding away to give back to yourself will help you give back to the people who come into your classroom everyday.



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