Getting back into the new year can be a challenge after having a two-week hiatus. Reaching winter break is a milestone; however, there is much more to accomplish this school year. Educators can focus on learning and growth by being intentional and utilizing technology resources.
Be intentional about expectations.
Reteaching classroom rules and expectations may seem obvious. However, we all need to reset after a break. For example, sleeping in and staying up late may be seen as a minor inconvenience when returning to school or work. Without taking time to reteach classroom, recess, and common area expectations, educators underestimate the power they have to curtail behavior problems, especially in elementary students. The few minutes it takes is
time well spent so the focus can be on learning. Using technology can be a great way they accomplish both. Using timers, behavior incentives, and classroom apps are intentional ways to help students get back in the swing.
Be intentional with lesson planning.
Preparing for upcoming mid-year tests is a must. Once expectations are retaught, you are ready to start preparing. Mid-year tests are when we see the most growth. In my district, testing begins two short weeks after winter break. Benchmark testing and progress monitoring are essential to see growth and learning gaps. For younger students, foundational skills such as phonemic awareness, and for older students, multisyllabic require the same skill set. In mathematics, basic computation facts are critical for future success and understanding more challenging concepts. Mid-year assessments are necessary to ensure students have a solid foundation in these subject areas. This is the perfect time to focus on foundational skills. Learning apps can help meet students’ individual needs and help them achieve their goals.
Be intentional with goal setting.
Continuing to have a growth mindset for the remainder of the year and goal setting can set up a path for success. As with any new year, thoughts are on resolutions. This helps everyone, not just students. By Setting SMART goals, there is a higher chance of achieving those goals. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it refers to setting goals by identifying something Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. This can be used for adults in a work or home setting. To add the level of commitment, remember to write goals down and have regular check-in dates; this can be done using an app or document to track your progress.
For example, in an elementary student, a teacher would sit with a student and help determine a worthwhile goal together and offer support. For example, a student may want to increase words per minute by the end of the grading period. To encourage even more options for growth, explore these four areas: physical, social, emotional, and academic focus. Ultimately, fostering independence is where students can determine their goals by starting this conversation in a morning meeting with the entire class. Students can brainstorm ideas or areas in which they want to see growth.
Getting ready for a new year is an exciting time when you see where you’ve been and where you want to go. It is essential to be intentional about why you are doing things, what you’re doing and where you would like to be. By reteaching expectations, making preparations, setting thoughtful goals, and utilizing technology, we can help students to achieve success.
Written by: Teresa Marchant
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