A Mid-Year Reflection: Thinking About the School Year So Far

As 2017 comes to a close, it marks the middle of the school year and the winter break gives you an opportunity to reflect on how the school year is going.

Some years, the school year is going very smoothly and the students are happy and engaged. There are also some years the routines and classroom management ideas that worked well in the past just aren’t working this year.

Take some time to think about what aspects of your classroom you want to continue, and what things you want to change after the New Year to have a successful year.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. How are the students reacting to your classroom management procedures? This can include classroom jobs, gathering of materials and cleaning up, morning, lunch, end of day routines, transitions, seating arrangements, etc. Remember to practice and reinforce them when you come back from winter break.
  2. Does your behavior management work? Is it positive and require little amount of effort and management from your end?
  3. How is the classroom community? Do the students feel safe in the classroom? Do they feel comfortable with the teachers and their classmates? Do you have classroom meetings or a time for students to share, build social skills and connections with each other?
  4. What are some new songs or chants to keep things fresh? Some teachers like to use them for transitions or to capture the students’ attention. Some fun attention getters:
    Teacher: Peanut butter! Students: Jelly time!
    Teacher: Alright, stop! Students: Collaborate and listen! (Ice Ice Baby)
    Teacher: Hocus Pocus! Students: Everybody focus!
    Teacher: Winner Winner! Students: Chicken Dinner!
    Teacher: Mac and Cheese! Students: Everybody freeze!
    Use a rain stick, music box, silly sound makers like a party blower
  5. Are the students given enough time to move? Try gonoodle.com to add some fun and movement breaks into the day.
  6. Do you need to change the furniture arrangement in your classroom to solve any transition or daily routine problems? Or do you need to change desk/table arrangements to form new partners/groups or to aid in collaborative group work or discussion?
  7. Do I need to change the presentation of my lesson? For example, move calendar time to the smartboard, or use the student computers more or less during a lesson. Are the students at their desks or on the floor during the lesson?
  8. Do I need to allow more freedom of where students work and sit or do I need to be more structured and have assigned seats?
  9. Is there a new app, technology, website or program you want to try? Try letsrecap.com, a free website/app to hold discussions or reflections through posting questions, videos, and video responses. Or try padlet.com, a virtual wall where students share and collaborate by posting their thoughts and answers.
  10. Do you need to restructure your guided reading groups or math groups? Are the students in the appropriate group? Do I want to mix learning levels or keep them the same?
  11. Do you need to reevaluate your centers? Are the students independent and engaged? Does the rotation of the centers make sense?
  12. How is the communication with your parents? Is there an easier way for you to communicate? Have students write a weekly newsletter, or try Seesaw – a free digital portfolio students or teachers can use to share photos, videos, reminders, or artifacts.
  13. Do you need to build in more brain breaks during the day to keep the students engaged?
  14. Are you differentiating enough for your students? Are students at each level being challenged and motivated?
  15. Are you including opportunities for students to reflect and self- assess their work? Am I giving enough feedback to the students?
  16. Are you taking care of yourself? If you are unhappy and stressed, the students will also feel the same way. If you have a personal day, use Daybreak Lesson Plans to help with the sub plans.