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Teaching Strategies to Kickstart the New Year

Janelle Cox

The holidays are over, and it’s time to get back into the grind. The New Year is the perfect time to reflect upon the past and start anew. Forget what teaching strategies that you have done past. This January, try to freshen things up and try something new. Here are a few teaching strategies to get you started.

Teaching Strategies: Reflect Upon the Past Year

The start of the New Year is the perfect time to get your students to reflect upon the first few months of the school year. Talk about what they liked and disliked in the classroom, what they would change, and what they what have done differently if they could. Put students into small groups and encourage them to create a list of all of these things. Next, have students think about one positive thing that has happened to them since school started this year, and one thing that they feel is holding them back. This can be anything from receiving a bad grade in math, to getting in trouble for talking too much. Allow them to take turns sharing their thoughts. Then discuss that the New Year means that they can put whatever was holding them in the past and move on to a more positive, fresh start.

Create Attainable Goals

Help your students set attainable goals this January. You can start by sharing what a realistic goal looks like, and how they can achieve it. Here is an example that you can share with your students.

I want to take my children on a vacation this spring break, but in order to that, I will have to budget my money. This means that I cannot buy myself things whenever I want them, or go out dinner as much as I would like to. My goal is to save as much as money as I can, so I can go on vacation with my family.

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This example shows students that in order to achieve your goal, you have to make sacrifices. This example also shows that if you plan your budget accordingly, and do not spend money frivolously, then you will be able to achieve your goal of a family vacation.

To help your students create attainable goals, have them think about three things that they would like to make happen this year. Encourage them to start off small and think about something that they are able to achieve in one week, such as handing in their homework on time each day for one week, or passing their spelling test on Friday. Then, have them think of two more realistic goals that they can reach that may take them a little bit longer. An example of this may be to get a 100 percent on their minute math test, or to practice their instrument every night so they can try out for the school band next year. Make sure that you periodically check in with students throughout the weeks and months to see how they are doing with their goals.

Rethink Homework

Homework is one of those topics where teachers either are for it or are against it. Whatever your take is on this topic, ask yourself, “Why am I giving it, and what purpose does it serve my students?” The research is quite mixed on this topic, and it’s important for educators to take the time to really think about what their take is on it. Research shows that if you are going to give homework, then it should be no longer than ten minutes for elementary school students, and 20 minutes for middle school students. As the students get older, so does the amount of time spent on homework. Take a few minutes to think if your homework aligns with the research, as well as if it aligns with your daily lesson. This New Year may just mean a decrease in homework for your kiddos.

Change Up Your Classroom Routine

Studies have proven that children thrive when there is a daily routine. However, routines can get quite monotonous and boring, so this January try and tweak it a little bit. Do not change up your whole routine so it will confuse your students and disrupt their lives, just try and change it up a little so the day feels a little more interesting. If your students are used to having silent reading time first in thing in the morning, try switching it to the end of the day. If your students are used to lining up for lunch by your calling their numbers instead of their names, try playing a fun game that uses their names to line up. Just a little change in routine can make help break up the monotony of the whole day.

Do you have any fun teaching strategies that you like to try for the New Year? Please share your suggestions and ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.