All anyone can think about right now is Christmas. If you’re currently teaching in the UK, you’ll have surely jumped feet first into the holiday spirit already. This means that you have probably cut down your pupils’ workload and made school a little more lax before the holidays begin. While everyone deserves a break at the end of the year, you need to make sure that you change direction when the next term swings around. With that in mind, here are seven ways you can go about changing gears in January.
Start fresh from day one
You will want to put the holidays behind you when you return to school in January. This means no festive wall displays, no decorated trees or anything else of that nature. Instead, you will want your classroom to appear how it did before Christmas. This way your students should quickly clock onto the message that the fun is over and it’s time to get serious again.
Re-establish your authority
It’s possible that within all the yuletide excitement you may have shown your pupils a different side to your personality. In January, it’s time to put a pin in any perception that you are laid-back when it comes to productivity. Therefore, you should re-establish your authority by telling your class that you won’t stand for anything less than them giving 100%. You don’t want to instil fear in your students, but at the same time, you don’t want to come across like a pushover.
Get parents to re-commit
In September, you will have more than likely found that attendance and punctuality were at an all-time high. Sadly, these tend to drop as the year goes on and can be particularly concerning over Christmas. January is a new beginning and a time to wipe the slate clean. As well as letting your pupils know that you won’t stand for them arriving late or being absent, it is worth reaching out to parents to get them to re-commit to these standards. A simple letter or email should do the trick.
Map out the next few months
In most schools, the exam period kicks off in May. This means that you should have a good five months to prepare your students by the time term starts in January. It’s vital that you map out how important the time is between now and the first exam. Remind your pupils that the clock is ticking and there’s no time to waste moving forwards. In an ideal world, they should already be aware of this, but it won’t hurt to stress this message to those who aren’t.
Gradually begin testing again
You’ll find that your class might not take the prospect of exams seriously until they are right around the corner. After all, they are still some time in future. However, you’ll know better than anyone that it’s never too early to start holding assessments. You should, therefore, start thinking about holding a few tests that will ease your class into the exam period. Those who achieve good results should receive a well-deserved confidence boost. Meanwhile, those who have begun to slack should quickly realise that it’s time to shape up.
If you’re holding off on setting assignments because of the holidays, then you’ll need to make up for this in January. It’s vital that your pupils get used to working outside of school and understand just how much it can benefit their education. Again, like exam prep, it’s probably best to ease your class into this new routine.
Make the most of the cold weather
There are often few benefits to the cold weather. However, you’ll know as a teacher that it can be your best friend. In the summer, pupils tend to spend too much time gazing out of the windows and daydreaming about what’s on the other side of the glass. You won’t have this to contend with in the winter though and therefore you should make the most of the temperature while you can. Why not hold drop-in sessions at lunchtimes when pupils can come and discuss any areas of their work they’re unsure about. They might even find it preferable to going out into the cold weather!
Hold mid-year reviews
Mid-year officially occurs in schools in February. But really, the best time to hold a mid-year review is at the start of January. The new year marks the ideal time to sit down for a one-to-one chat with your pupils and set goals. Let them know what they have done well, how they can do better and clearly outline what you expect from them moving forwards. It’s also a chance for them to make you aware of their own concerns.
It’s time for a change
As a teacher, you’ll be well aware that your pupils can’t take their foot off the gas for too long. Therefore, don’t waste any time changing gears in January. Follow these tips and you should set the correct tone for the remainder of 2017.