Refresh, Reflect, Rejuvenate, Revitalize
The start of a new year comes with a reflective state of mind.
You think back over the past year.
You make resolutions about how you will make yourself better!
Teachers in the new year...SCARY!
Teachers, who are naturally reflective, go into self-reflection overload… Or, is that just me?
Personal story alert.... :)
I just finished a phone call with a great friend of mine who is also a teacher. As always, our conversations start with family talk, move into the problems of the world and always…always inch toward education, instruction and the classroom. So, after we got caught up with what is going on in our families and solved the world’s problems (we always solve it!), we moved to education, instruction and the classroom.
This time we reminisced about how we must have been spoiled when we started our teaching careers and remained spoiled for our 20+ years because we were always surrounded by teachers who went above and beyond to learn and grow their teaching craft. What special relationships we developed with fellow educators who wanted to learn and grow their teaching craft!
Which brings me back to self-reflection and the new year… My dream team of colleagues that I have always worked with had conversations about the following things each year we were together in our effort to self-reflect, refresh our instruction and start things fresh each new year.
Hopefully, the following suggestions will help you reflect on the new year ahead and organize a fresh start this year for you and your students.
that will change the way
you start the NEW YEAR
Some of these little tricks may seem silly and ridiculous but they always worked for me! Even if the changes were just the littlest thing. Little changes can create a fresh start for new beginnings. And who doesn't need a fresh start and new beginning?!
Reflection is the key to fresh starts and new beginnings for both you and your students.
Refresh The Space
Reconfigure your room: align the desks or tables a different way.
Even if it is the slightest little change. Your students will notice!
It's amazing how changing furniture around can refresh a living space. It makes it all new again.
Fresh start & new beginnings!
Redesign Shared Spaces
Redesign the shared area for whole group instruction and read alouds.
If you do not have a shared area, start one! It can be done.
I’ve had 28 students in a classroom with 7 round tables, 1 small group kidney-shaped table and a carpeted area to fit a circle of 28 students and 1 or 2 teachers. We may have stepped over each other and backpacks but having that shared area for whole group meetings made a world of difference.
Make A Simple Addition
Put in a new lamp or chair.
It's the simple things that made a difference for me.
If I could put in a new focal point, like a lamp, my students would notice it right away.
Call me cheesy but adding a new chair or lamp or throw pillow can make a difference.
It just shows that you care enough about the little people to make subtle changes to liven up the shared living space.
Start reading aloud to your students EVERY DAY!
If you haven't been reading to your students...at ALL levels..., start!
Kids of all ages love listening to read aloud.
If read aloud is part of your daily routine, think about how to step outside of the comfort box and read-aloud texts that you would not normally choose.
Reintroduce Students to the Library
Revisit your classroom library for some “book tasting” and letting students reconnect with the books in your classroom library.
You could work with another teacher to have a collaborative book tasting in the school library.
➡️ Introduce or reintroduce your readers to books that you know will interest them.
➡️ Introduce or reintroduce your readers to books that you know will spark new interests.
➡️ Develop a menu of books that will reach all of your readers!
Make it a fun celebration of reading!
Start your students on a reflective journey.
Have students revisit their reading identities and reflect on what they have already accomplished as readers.
The start of a new year is the perfect time for readers to revisit (or begin exploring) the kinds of readers they are.
➡️ Help your readers see how much they have progressed since September.
➡️ Help your students see the kinds of readers they want to become in the new year.
➡️ Help your readers set goals to become those readers this year.
Start Your Reflective Teacher Journey
Self Reflect and Set Professional Goals
Being self-reflective will help you establish professional goals and keep you on track in meeting those goals.
Reflect on the kind of teacher you are now.
💭🤔 Decide what your professional goals and dreams are to become the kind of teacher you want to be.
💭🤔 Set goals for the kind of teacher you want to become.
💭🤔 Make decisions about your instruction that will benefit not only your students but your professional goals too!
Start your Reflective Teacher Journey today! (You may want to check out the Reflective Teacher Guide at the bottom of the article).
Reflect daily about how your students are working towards achievement and how you are working towards your professional goals.
Deep Dive Into Your Instruction
Take a deep dive into reflecting on your current literacy instruction. Start planning the big picture to keep you and your learners on track. (You may want to check out the 'big picture' planning tool and guide below.)
Ask yourself a few questions to get you started...
Am I offering my students a true highly engaged classroom?
Am I offering my students opportunities to authentically try out new reading strategies?
Am I giving my readers true experiences that REAL READERS need?
Am I allowing time for my readers to talk about books?
Am I modeling what a proficient reader looks and sounds like?
Start Professional Conversations
Teachers are professionals!
✅ Engage in professional conversations with the literacy leader in your building or your district.
✅ Initiate professional conversations with your peers.
✅ Hold yourself accountable in reaching your professional goals.
Create More Authentic Reading Experiences
Engage in thoughtful reflection about how to use fewer worksheets and passages to help students engage in open-ended thought and conversation about themselves as readers.
Check out this authentic literacy menu for engaging activities...
Happy New Year!!
Until next time...
Read more about setting up your big picture for Reading (& Writing) instruction. It's not just for running a reading workshop, it's for all methods of reading instruction.