Another new beginning! Don't you just love the feeling of a fresh start? Even though I know it's all theoretical...I mean it is just another morning in a continous string of regularly scheduled mornings, January 1st represents something more! And, really, it's the second fresh start of the year if you are a teacher.
September 6th (or whatever day your school year started on) also felt like New Year's Day. You had lovingly prepared your classroom for a group of new students. Your first weeks' plans were written with dreams of unlimited potential. Your supplies were neatly stacked, still bundled in unopened packaging. The books in your library were leveled and neatly arranged in colorful bins or standing straight as soldiers on bookshelves in alphabetical order. Everything felt fresh and new. There was a sense of anticipation for what was about to begin for you and your students.
And then the school bell rang. Those precious lives came in and sat in the seats in your classroom and the work began.
Now, here we are, four months later and nearly at the end of the second quarter of the academic shcool year. Almost the end of the first semester. Halfway done. How have your classroom plans and dreams unfolded?
When I was in the classroom I always appreciated this winter break as a time to look back over those first months of the school year and to think about how it all went. Often, I would realize that the day-to-day work, the tight schedules, the shifting priorities, etc. had stolen the time I had planned to devote to new initiatives. My dreams for enriching or extending had been swallowed by the reality of keeping on instructional pace.
Rather than give up in frustration, I would work to rebuild those plans and dreams for the new year. Please, do not give up on those plans and dreams. You and your students deserve them!
January 1st is the perfect time to revisit, revive, or reinspire your teaching dreams, the ones you had on that first day of school when your plans were written with the enthusiastic belief that you and your students could accomplish anything this year! Close your eyes and summon that golden optimism, that "Yes we can!" ideal that drove your instruction and every interaction with your students in September. And once you feel that energy for planning and teaching and guiding your students to their absolute best, dive into some area of instruction that you didn't quite get to yet this year and fly with it!
May I suggest writing? :)
I challenge you to forge a granite strong conviction to make time in your day, every single day, for you and your students to write! The New Year is the perfect time to roll up your sleeves and dig into your schedule to find, designate, and protect time for writing. Every one of those precious children deserve the opportunity to find their voices, to express their thoughts, to tell their stories, to share their learning with the world. And it may truly require you to move mountains to make this happen...do it anyway!
Don't let the real and difficult struggles of the work year so far deter you from looking forward with renewed energy. Don't allow the limitations of tight schedules, pacing requirements, or testing expectations deflect your efforts to provide your students access to authentic learning experiences, especially in writing. As educators, our New Year's resolutions should always be to dig deep and reflect on our practices to see how we can continue to lift the level of our teaching to help our students reach their goals going into the second half of the year. For the second half of this year, make writing a priority in your classroom. I'll work alongside you.
Happy New Year! Happy Writing!