Take 5 To Prepare for the New Semester


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Everyone remembers the song “It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas” when Bing Crosby reminds us that mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again. Spoiler: It isn’t only the kids who look forward to a nice extended break during the school year! Teachers anxiously await this time as well. They eagerly anticipate time to reset and recharge, sleep in, and consider the possibilities of the New Year. 

Cate Reed, seasoned administrator, current Senior Vice President of Teach For America, and Possip Reporter, discusses what teachers can do to optimize their winter break.

As winter break approaches, days can be filled with smiles and fun, but it can also be a time of anxiety.  Teachers work to help students manage the end-of-semester assignments, grades, and stress.  Teachers worry about ensuring they are set up to hit the ground running when January comes, knowing that the spring semester is high stakes for kids and staff alike. On top of that, in places where it is cold and dark early in winter, the doldrums sometimes creep in.

Ensure your staff has a suite of ideas they can use as winter break approaches that will set everyone up to come back in January ready to take on the spring semester seamlessly and effectively. Here are some impactful ideas you can share with your team this December: 

1. Set Academic Goals

  • Reflect: Take time to review what worked well and what didn’t in the previous semester. Consider giving a student feedback survey to determine what to keep doing in the future. This can be a great end-of-year activity that is low stress, and high return. 

  • Revisit your yearly goals and objectives. Where are your students relative to where you wanted them to be? Students themselves can take time to journal about their biggest successes and challenges of the first semester.

  • Review your syllabus: Develop a detailed syllabus that outlines your course schedule, assignments, due dates, and grading criteria. Share this with your students when the new semester begins. Going into break with this done frees up mental room to relax over break!

  • Tip for leaders: Model for your staff. Send our your own reflections to staff  about the things you are most proud of from the first semester, and what you are working on, and encourage them to do that alongside their students.