Midyear – A Good Time to Start Anew?
Are you a new teacher? A veteran in the classroom? Or a student teacher just starting to plan for and work with students on your own?
Wondering how to get off to a good start in the middle of the school year? Yes, the beginning of the new semester can be great time to start all over again – even if you’re teaching a full year course. Sounds paradoxical, huh? Think about it.
You’ve had a full semester with most of your students and you now know more about them as individual learners and also as groups of learners. Why not start fresh, planning ways to adapt your spring lessons to what you’ve learned about this particular group of energetic youngsters? How are you progressing on plans to meet Common Core State Standards or whatever curriculum goals you’re charged to meet by the end of the school year?
Consider developing a reflection/projection lesson. You could set aside a class period the opening day of the new semester and ask the students to reflect on what they’ve learned so far and what they can learn by the end of the school year.
There’s no need to leave those as open-ended questions. Instead, you can provide students with a list of department grade level objectives and ask the students to rate themselves on a scale of 1-6 on how close they are to reaching those objectives. Then, write a couple realistic strategies for maintaining, raising those rating or setting goals for reaching the remainder of the objectives for their grade level. Keep them encouraged by reminding them they have the rest of the year to reach those goals, improve their skills and expand their learning.
You may use your school standards for your course instead. Pulling this lesson together will refresh your memory, too. It’ll remind you of what you have accomplished and what you still can aim to accomplish before year’s end.
See a sample a self-reflection you could adapt for your students. Here’s a link to one of the Semester I Self-Reflection forms I’ve used. If you’ve never had your students take a “How Do I Learn?” quiz, consider administering one of the on-line versions. Very insightful and enlightening. Here’s one.
What’s Your Learning Style? This on line quiz can help reveal how individual students learn, providing teachers valuable information for planning more engaging and effective lessons.
If you’d like a brief video to share with your students to review the writing process, consider this one presented by Leslie K. Joubert when she was a student teacher. It’s concise enough to use as a jumping off place the second semester as you release your students to work more independently.