January 3, 2019

Starting "fresh" as a teacher in January

If you are from my hometown, chances are that you're already back in school for a short week following the New Year.

If you're from the districts I've worked in across the country, you're probably not back to the classroom until next week.

Either way, this post can help you!

Something I always did was start fresh in January. It helped that we often didn't go back to school until the second week in January in the districts I worked for, so it really had a second-semester-feel when the kids came back. Last year, I posted about what I do during those dreaded winter months to keep up my own motivation, along with the students'.

My biggest #1 secret has always been to make sure all of the Christmas decorations are taken down before I leave the building before break. Winter/snow/snowmen...that's all fine and will last you until the end of February. But anything with stockings or trees or presents or Santa needed to be off the walls before I left. This helped to contribute to palate-cleansing feel I'd get when I walked back in after break, and it's also, I think, incredibly motivating to students: a fresh start can be had by all, no matter what happened last fall.

I always tried to have something new and appealing for kids in January. I mentioned that I've been working on my Teachers Pay Teachers store this past fall and here are some ideas if you want something new to try...

How to solve your pencil problems

I love that this teaches independence. I used this method for years and, no matter the group, it always had a rate of success. (Because we know they all come back from a two week break having forgotten every rule and procedure associated with school.) I'm giving this one away for free because I think every teacher should at least check it out!

Following Along Reminder Cards

I used this last year, and it was something the kids enjoyed. I was actually surprised, at one point, to learn just how much they appreciated being held accountable for their own learning. There's a full-sized poster and then mini-copies to fasten to student desks in this purchase.

Beginning of the Year Packet

I designed this packet to work for the beginning of the year and I've used it for years, but it's ideal for a new semester too...or if you're in a country that starts school in January! It includes a survey for the student, one for the parent(s), and a classroom scavenger hunt so students can get to know their new surroundings.

Classroom Library Sign-out and Rules

If you have a classroom library, this is the perfect time to revisit the rules or establish new ones. (I think rule #2 here is key, personally.)

I would also happily create custom library rules signs for anyone who is interested in one.

Depth of Knowledge Question Stems

This took me f.o.r.e.v.e.r to put together. I only wish I'd had that kind of time when I was in the classroom! I would've used these cards instead of just referring to a laminated sheet I kept by my projector to get the questions.
In this packet, there's 27 total stems and the ones pictured ^ are the lowest level, so they're labeled with a "1".
I also include ideas about how/when to use them.

Book Review Project for Fiction Chapter Books

This was a fun project I started doing way back in 2011 in Alaska. I did it as a poster/presentation, but this PDF packet covers all the basics and you could add in posters and presentations if you wanted. I just found that it was a nice way to break up January/February and was also an easy way to connect to Common Core Standards, while doing something a little different.


I hope you find something here that works for you or a teacher friend! 

(While I would love to make real money off of TPT some day, I would never put anything on there that I wouldn't use myself...these are all tried and true!)

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