The New Year: Reflecting and Refreshing in the Classroom

The start of a new calendar year is a great time to help students reflect on renewal and hopes for the future. Many teachers find that routines that were quite polished in December seem to need a bit of refreshing in January, as well.

You can integrate both of these ideas as you reflect on the past and move forward. In a class meeting, invite students to share:

  • What are some of their favorite memories from the first half of the year?
  • What are some of their hopes and dreams for the second part of the year? These can be academic or about friends or field trips.

Agreements and routines benefit from reflection and refreshing too.IMG_0144

  • At the beginning of the year you asked your students what kind of agreements were needed to make this the best year ever. How are those agreements working?
  • What parts of the agreements need to be changed now that they know each other better? What new agreements could they add to make school even better?
  • Check in on routines. Invite your class to be observers. As you use your routines, pause and ask the students to reflect on how the routine is working using a non-verbal sign(thumbs up, sideways or down). If the routine is not working well, you can ask for help, re-teach, or take more time for practice. Spending time on routines now is a big investment in re-establishing a safe place for learning for the rest of the year.

Students can also think forward individually. Have students reflect on their individual hopes and goals for 2016. Some possibilities:

  • What things and/or qualities would they like to remain the same, and what might they like to improve or change? Give them time to share with a partner, or a small group. Have groups make collages to hang in the classroom.
  • Have each student pick an academic and a friendship goal for the year. Have each student write down one thing that he or she could do in the next week that would take a small step toward that goal.