For many of us, it’s been a long, cold, pie-filled few weeks since our classrooms were packed with students. Just before finals, they were studying hard and full of anticipation for an extended break. Now that the hiatus is behind us, it’s time to get back to business. Reddit collected tips for new teachers returning from their first winter break, and we’ve gathered the best of them.
Accept failures from the term before… and keep an eye out for the ones ahead.
We mean both literal and figurative failures. We’ve written quite a bit (because it’s one of our favorite educational, professional and life philosophies) about the importance of failure in the classroom. Students who earned failing grades last semester should have a chance to learn the material they missed. If you could have done more to help a student learn and they’re invested now, use this chance to do so. There will be opportunities for improvement (we sure hope) in the future as well, so work on recognizing them!
Use the beginning of the year as a chance to reevaluate how you’re teaching.
Reddit user PaHotoSynthesis takes this part of the year to look at the teacher-student relationship. Have you done the best job possible helping your students understand the content? What can you do better? The kids themselves may be able to help you decide on that: “I’ve had pretty good luck just leveling with the kids… They usually appreciate that – even if they claim to be apathetic it shows them that you care… Sometimes it isn’t as bad as you think.”
Jump right back in.
Many of the popular comments featured teachers who shared their actual content-specific plans for the first day of the semester. Most said they would take at least a few minutes to get students back in the swing of things: reviewing procedures and schedule reminders, but then, it’s on to the learning. Don’t waste any precious classroom time: get the students going right away!
Show your class it’s a new semester with new opportunities.
Even if your grade book doesn’t refresh with the new term, students can use the date on the calendar as a new start in your class. It’s hard for younger people (or really anyone) to be motivated by an event 16 weeks into the future, but they have all spring to turn things around, if need be.
This is also a good opportunity to remind students what your classroom procedures and expectations are, since they’ve had a lot of freedom over the break and may need to rehash the structure of a well-functioning classroom.
You’re fresh off a break, but beware burnout.
Teachers hear it all the time: you have to take time away from the classroom to avoid it consuming your life. Even if you’ve just had weeks out of the classroom, make it happen. A few minutes here and there and one weekend day without school on your mind will save a lot of stress just a few days down the road. Redditors agreed with User __solid: the key to avoiding teacher burnout is taking time for yourself here and there, and it’s a strategy to pass on to your students as well.
One more word of advice, from Reddit User ThreePenny, who says it’s always easier with one semester under your belt: “You’re going to be fine! You’ve made it through the hardest part already!”
Reddit teachers have many more back-to-class tips here! Veteran teachers, what did we miss?