Hello educators! This is Connor McElveen, and you are reading the Discovery World Educator Community January Blog post. I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday break and is staying warm in this dreary weather.
With the celebrations behind us, however, it’s time to focus on starting the new school year right. Even though the frigid weather can slow down your classroom in these first few weeks back, your friendly neighborhood Teacher Representative has a few tips and tricks to make sure the learning spirit never goes cold.
- Prep your classroom. Getting your classroom decorated and ready to go for the New Year can have a huge impact on both you and your students. Make sure to take down any lingering holiday decorations, replacing them with pictures and posters detailing the exciting activities you have planned for the upcoming months. You can even consider rearranging the furniture in your classroom.
- Prep yourself. Revolutionary, I know. But as the driver behind this learning limo, you need to make sure you’re back into the swing of things just as much as your children. No one expects you to be Ms. Frizzle the first day back, but by the 2nd week back from break, you should be mentally set for the finish line (or at least Spring Break).
- Make sure all that post-holiday curiosity is out of their system. Students are going to be absolutely fervent with curiosity about what happened over the break. Who got the best toy? Where did so and so go? An excellent way to alleviate this is to embrace it and let the curiosity naturally flow. Host a popcorn story-time, or have your next art project center around what your students did for Christmas. Any way your kids can constructively communicate their emotions about the holiday break will help them deflate and ease back into the swing of things.
- Make your morning activities energetic and student-led. As mentally prepared as you might be for the school year, your students have just spent the past few weeks waking up late watching TV on the couch. As such, doing worksheets first thing in the morning is a recipe for mental overload for your downtrodden kiddoes. For the first few weeks back, consider making a larger portion of your morning activities focus on open-ended, student-led activities that are less about learning and more about engagement. Some examples include the aforementioned popcorn story-time, a maker-space activity (I’m partial to brushbots), or even a simple read-out-loud book reading.
- Make a 2018 goals chart. This can be as big or small as you like. I have heard of teachers having their kids make personal journals to keep New Year’s goals in, only to be shared with the teacher and the student. Other teachers have constructed a massive chart and asked each student to contribute one goal they have for the rest of the school year. Any way you do it, encouraging students to think ahead is only going to be beneficial, and having them set goals for themselves is an easy way to do this in a positive light.