Around this time each year, things change for me and my students.
First, my students and I stumble a bit. Transitions are rough, the chit-chat escalates and assignment follow-through wanes. It’s a winter phenomenon. Not a huge surprise.
Second, I begin to panic about the remainder of the year and all that’s still to learn, know and be able to do. I know how quickly the spring slips away and how many intrusions there are on our school day. My own responsibility and expectations weigh me down.
I think the two changes mutually reinforce one another in a negative manner. My goal for this January is to not allow the spiral of stress overwhelm me nor my students.
Step 1: Class meeting about norms & agreements from August
Step 2: Acknowledge that my 6th graders are changing–it’s ok
Step 3: Allow myself the liberty to teach and guide as I always do and let the calendar handle itself. I don’t have control over outside intrusions, never have. I certainly can’t be my most effective self if I’m overwhelmed and feeling rushed.
Step 4: Keep my students in the loop–transition challenges, my expectations for the second half of the year, how 6th graders should be changing as the year progresses
Step 5: Institute the 5-minute check-in EVERYDAY. Circle up! and debrief our improvements, make suggestions, set goals for tomorrow, and celebrate our work together. Everyday.
Even with the annual roughness of January, I am confident we will regroup, renew and finish strong.