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January Classroom Jump Start [episode 45]


Click below to hear tips for a January classroom jumpstart:

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Overview of episode 45:

You took some time off to rest and relax over winter break, and now you’re refreshed and ready for the second half of the school year! But let’s be honest, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. That’s why we’ve come up with ways to jumpstart the rest of the year. So in today’s episode, we’re sharing 4 tips for a January classroom jumpstart to begin using in your classroom!

We’ve shared before how January is the start of a new calendar year, but can also feel like a new start to the school year. Even though you’re halfway through the school year, when your students come back, it can feel like a new beginning. Keeping with that idea in mind, our tips reflect that as we provide ways for a January classroom jumpstart. 

Just like it was important to create opportunities to relax over break, the same applies when returning to the classroom. By having a reset on your procedures, morning routines, and thinking ahead towards the rest of the school year, it will give you that January classroom jumpstart that you need!

Highlights from the episode:

[00:54] Today’s morning message: what is your one word theme for 2023?

[2:50] Resource of the Week: Spiral Review – Morning Work

[4:28] 4 tips for how to jumpstart your January in the classroom.

[15:45] A list of previous episodes to help with your jumpstart.

[16:40] Today’s teacher approved tip for rating your procedures.


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Read the transcript for episode 45, January Classroom Jump Start:

Hey there, thanks for joining us today. In today’s episode, we’re sharing a few impactful and actionable ideas for a January jumpstart in your classroom.

We start our episodes with a morning message, just like we used to do at morning meeting in our classrooms. This week’s morning message is what is your one word theme for 2023? Now, back in episode 27, which we re aired last week, we talked about having a one word theme to help you focus on your goals for the year. Yeah, that was a good one. And you can do this in January or at the start of the school year, or sometimes we do both. Yep.

So Emily, what is your one word for 2023? Well, actually, I decided to keep my word that I chose in September because it still feels like the right choice for me at the moment. So I’m keeping my word connection. That is a good one. And our mom got us both little desk signs with our Word of the Year on them. So I have that right next to my computer. And it’s a good reminder of my word. And I’m just excited to carry a focus on connection into the new year.

So what’s your word for 2023, Heidi? Well, I’m keeping the same word too. So really not much of a reveal. But my word is trust. And I think that’s what I still need to be focusing on. Yeah, sometimes I feel ready for a change in January. And sometimes I’m like, no, what if if it’s September, I still feel right. But then sometimes I just want to change in June, so also figure that.

We have some responses from our community. We had so many great words suggested that I’m just going to list them all here rapid fire. We’ve got pursuit, thrive, today, rise, focus, commitment, persevere, calm, worth, choice, gentle, liberty, gratitude, survive. prioritize, peace, joy, family, and breakthrough. And those are awesome.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to listen to last week’s episode to hear more about choosing your one word theme. And we’d love to hear what your one word theme is over in our teacher approved Facebook group or on Instagram at @2ndstory window. And that is with a two.

It’s time for the Resource of the Week. This week’s resource is our spiral review: morning work. Heidi, you created the very first iteration of this resource about 20 years ago, right? Why don’t you tell us a little more about how it came to be.

I can’t believe it’s been that long. I had to sit down be like wait a minute. Oh, no. And I was I was a baby teacher in my second year of teaching. And my principal insisted that we needed to incorporate daily spiral review. And I had been searching for meaningful, predictable, independent work to start every day with; when she made that announcement, it just seemed like such a good fit to pair spiral review and morning work together. And it has been a good match.

Yeah, I’ll say it’s been a very good match. We’ve helped over 50,000 teachers maximize their instructional time by incorporating daily spiral review. Our daily spiral review morning work is available for kindergarten, first, second, third, and now fourth grade. Each grade level includes 180 days of math and ELA spiral review, an answer key and Google Slides and or Seesaw depending on the grade level. You can find our spiral review morning work in our shop and at the link in our show notes.

There is something so special about January in the classroom. It feels like a little second chance of that back to school feeling. Yes. While you aren’t getting a completely clean slate January still feels like a chance for a fresh start in your classroom. So today we have four tips to give your classroom a little January Jumpstart.

The first tip is to reteach procedures. One of the best things you can do to revitalize your classroom in January is to revisit your procedures. Efficient procedures are the trick to keeping your classroom running like a well oiled machine. But chances are good that by mid year, that machine isn’t running quite as smoothly as it used to.

Yeah, I feel like January is really the perfect time to do a big reset on those procedures. Don’t forget that even though back to school feels like ages ago, you still have a lot of the year left. And back to school feels like ages ago for you, it’s going to feel like, like a past lifetime to your students.

And that feeling is going to make it easy for kids to start slacking when it comes to meeting the expectations that you set at the beginning of the year. Yeah, so putting in the time now to sharpen up your everyday procedures will pay off big time for the several months, you still have left of the school year. So let’s take advantage of all that time that we have left.

We are not exaggerating, I promise we’re not exaggerating when we say this might be the best gift you can give yourself and your students. Finish out the year with less headaches. I don’t know if we can promise no headaches. If you want to hear more about the importance of procedures and all of our best tips for introducing them, be sure to check out episode 18 of our podcast.

Reteaching procedures mid year is a similar process to introducing them at the start of the year, except you’re not working from a blank slate. The kids already know what you mean, when you say it’s time to pack up for the day. They just might need a little nudge to actually do it.

So Emily, why don’t you tell us about the process for teaching or re teaching procedures? Well, when it comes to re teaching procedures, you need to start by observing your class. So plan a day where you will pay careful attention to what your class does throughout the day. And as the teacher, we’ve been there, right? It’s really easy to pinpoint all the little things that aren’t perfect. But it’s also important to make sure that you are noting what is going right. Oh yeah.

And pointing out the good also helps students recognize the target. If lining up is going great because everyone remembered their coat and all their lunchboxes ended up in the right place, then pointing that out to help students remember to keep doing those things.

Once you know which procedures are running effectively and which ones aren’t, you need to decide how to address the problem areas. In episode 32 of the podcast, we dedicated a whole episode to fixing up failing routines. Yeah, we highly recommend giving that episode a listen, if you want to hear more about how we solve procedure problems mid year. That’s a deep dive you might really need to right about and you won’t be alone.

Then you need to actually reteach the procedures or introduce them if they’re new. So stop what you’re doing right now, I guess unless you’re driving, and then pencil or type procedure review into that plan book. If it is not in the plans, it is too easy to forget. I think we need to make that arrangement plans.

It’s okay, if you need to carve out pockets of time, over a few days to revisit all of your procedures. This doesn’t have to be just a one shot thing. Yeah. Okay, so procedures check. You’ve got a plan.

The next thing you want to look at for January Jumpstart is how to maximize your mornings. Heidi tell us about that. We think the absolute most important routine of your whole day is your morning routine. Having any efficiently planned morning routine will set your whole day up for success. You will be amazed at what an intentionally planned, well executed morning routine can help you accomplish. Yes, yes, yes to all. Episode 20 of our podcast is all about how to master your morning routine. We recommend giving that episode a listen if you want to hear all about how we approach morning routines.

But here’s a few quick takeaways from that episode if you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing. So essentially, the heart of your morning routine is this question: do your students know exactly what to do in the morning without any reminders from you? Your morning is not as efficient as it could be, if you have to remind your students what to do each day, or help them accomplish their tasks.

Predictability is key to making your mornings flow smoothly. And besides predictability, we want to make sure our mornings are also meaningful. We found spiral review to be the perfect meaningful instructional activity to start the day. It’s predictable, it can be done independently, but because it’s practicing things that you have previously taught, it’s not a taxing mental activity first thing in the morning, right?

If you’ve never started your morning with review, it might seem like a harsh welcome to the day, but it actually really works as more of a gentle nudge to get those neurons firing. You’d be surprised how much students enjoy doing it too.

We are big fans of starting the day with spiral review if you haven’t guessed, but we have also heard from lots and lots of other teachers that it works well for their students. But you definitely don’t feel like you have to start with a review. Everyone should have a review time built into their day, but that absolutely doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning. If that doesn’t work for you.

Any meaningful instructional activity will work to start your mornings off strong. The goal is just for it to be meaningful. And besides meaningful academics, we want to be sure that our mornings include meaningful time for connection as well. Yes, we are a longtime advocates for morning meeting. If you want some tips and tricks from people who have been doing morning meetings since 2001, some of us more than others. I’m not, I’m not using myself that much you can’t, you’re talking about, episode six and episode 28 will help you launch a morning meeting and learn how to keep it manageable.

So now we’ve got a plan for procedures, we’ve looked at our morning routine, and now we are on to the next January jumpstart tip, which is make a plan for how you will start doing test prep. Wow. The end of the school year may still seem far away, but it will be here before you know it. And we want our students to do well on those darn end of year tests. Nice edit.

But of course, most importantly, we want them to learn and to remember what they learned. Yes, the test is how it is measured. But the goal is to help our students build the retention. Research has found that spiral review, I know you’re like more spiral review, yes, spiral review is an incredibly impactful way to ensure learners can recall information when it’s needed later. As we just mentioned, we love to include it in our morning routines, but you can really do it anytime of the day or even with your homework.

We have spiral review, morning work and spiral review homework designed to help you easily build in that practice every day. If you haven’t found a way to build a review into your day yet, make a plan for how you can start doing that in January with morning work or homework or some other way. Maybe one of your math centers each week, will review a topic that you already learned last fall. Or maybe you want to do a big review game each Friday. Or maybe your kids can prepare videos to teach their classmates about tricky topics.

Because we are starting this in January, we have the time to make review engaging and creative. There are so many fun ways you can start working it into your schedule, if you start thinking about it now. And anything that gets kids to recall information from their memories, without the benefit of notes or books helps them retain that information in the long term. That is called retrieval practice. And it’s so important that we devoted our third podcast episode to explaining all about it.

You may also want to work on building on task stamina between now and those long, boring end of your tests. So you can spend time working on increasing your students on task time with graphs and monitoring how well they are able to focus on a task at a time. Or you can be celebrating their persistence and their frustration tolerance, all those skills that they’re going to need to be able to thrive on those tests. Yeah.

And the last tip we have for your January Jumpstart is to consider writing a bucket list of what experiences you still want to have before the year ends. As important as procedures and routines and test prep are, they probably aren’t the things that make you excited to come to work in the morning. So make sure that you’re planning something for you to look forward to doing with your class in the upcoming months.

Maybe you want to plan a camping theme day or read-a-thon. Maybe you want to schedule a guest speaker to teach a class about woodwind instruments. Or maybe you want to read a book or take a course on how to teach phonics.

Oh, I don’t know what made me think of this. But I remember seeing this idea of having your class make a big mural on like a length of butcher paper. And it can be about any theme you want. If you’re learning about communities in social studies, or ocean life in science, this could be a fun end of unit project. And then once you have your mural done, you then work it into your math time and you have students write their own story problems based on what’s happening in the picture.

So for example, 18 fish swim past the whale 11 fish are red and the rest of brown how many fish are brown? That sounds so fun. I always love an opportunity to combine multiple subject areas, can’t learn enough.

Something else you may want to add to that bucket list is to plan some surprise and delight. You can go back and listen to episode 35 to hear how surprise and delight work to keep your students engaged. And this is especially important on those dreary winter days seriously who can blame the kids for not being engaged on these dark days? So just make sure to add it to your plans or it’ll just become something else you meant to get to but never quite did.

We can speak from experience. Speak for yourself. Remember I’m younger I just didn’t get it done and I’ll take. Time is probably the rarest resource that teachers have. So take a minute here in January to figure out the second half of your school year. Write it down, make actual notes in your plan book, so that like Emily, your good ideas, don’t just stay ideas.

So to recap, here are our four tips to help jumpstart your classroom in January. One, evaluate your procedures and plan for how to tighten them up. Two, look at your morning routine and make a plan for any needed improvements. Three, decide how you will start preparing for test prep. And four, make a list of what fun things you still want to do this school year.

And if you want to go back and listen to any episodes that we referenced, this list might help you with your jumpstart as well. So our podcast episode 18 is about establishing procedures. Episode 32 covers fixing routines, Episode 20 highlights morning routines. Episode six and 28 cover morning meeting. We love it so much have dinner twice. Episode Three breaks down retrieval practice and review. And the last one episode 35 is full of delightful information about surprise and delight. That’s currently my favorite one that we’ve ever done.

We’d love to hear what you’re doing for a January jumpstart in your classroom over in our teacher approved Facebook group.

Now let’s talk about this week’s teacher approved tip. Each week we leave you with a small actionable tip that you can apply in your classroom today. This week’s teacher approved tip is rate your procedures. Now we’ve already covered this tip. So tell us why we’re revisiting it, Heidi?

Well, at the end of the first term, we recommended taking the opportunity to have your students rate their procedures. The idea is that having students weigh in on how well they’re following directions will make them more aware of what’s going on and what needs to be tweaked. But because it’s not built into your regular routine, this is easy to forget.

Since this activity is perfect for January jumpstart, we wanted to give you a little reminder. So for this to work, you need a list of your most important procedures, you don’t need to include everything unless you’re having problems with it, then have students rate how well they’re doing. You could just do a checklist like check, yep, we’ve got it down. Or you could do something like a five star rating where maybe five stars means we do it perfectly without any reminders, four stars means we need some reminders, all the way down to one star means we don’t do it at all, or maybe zero stars if it’s a real trouble.

And then you can have the kids rate how many stars they think they get for walking quietly in the halls. packing up at the end of the day, or whatever your most important procedures are. After rating, then you would lead a class discussion about what can be done to get all of the procedures a higher rating. And the discussion piece here is key to having an impact on behavior. It’s what’s going to help your class keep the expectations in their minds as you move farther into the year.

And really this activity is effective at any point in the year. But you could just schedule it at the start of each term or at the end of each term. So let us know if you would like an additional reminder when we get to the end of March.

To wrap up the show we’re sharing what we’re giving extra credit to this week. Heidi, what are you giving extra credit to? My extra credit goes to Oh Happy Dani on Instagram. I love her. Oh, me too. She has the cutest designs. And right now she has an awesome word of the year workbook. So if you have already chosen your word, it can help you get some clarity on how you want that word to show up in your life this year.

And if you haven’t yet chosen your word, she really mindfully walks you through what to consider. It is well thought out and like all of her stuff is beautifully designed, and it is totally free. So can’t go wrong with that. Oh, that’s awesome. I’ll find a link for that and put it in the show notes. Perfect. Thanks.

What is your extra credit this week? I’m giving extra credit to label makers. Love label makers. I’ve been on a journey of trying to get my whole house organized and especially to maximize all the space in my closets and cupboards and storage spaces. And I found that a label maker is such a game changer for making your organizational systems actually stick which is the hard part.

And I got an extra fancy one for Christmas. So I will put a link to that one in the show notes if you want the Bougie label maker but I also had like the $20 Brother and that one also works pretty much the same. Now seeing yours I can I can even if you have a birthday. Things to consider.

That’s it for today’s episode. Use our four tips to plan your January jumpstart.

More About Teacher Approved:

Do you ever feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to be the kind of teacher you really want to be? The Teacher Approved podcast is here to help you learn how to elevate what matters and simplify the rest. Join co-hosts Emily and Heidi of Second Story Window each week as they share research-based and teacher-approved strategies you can count on to make your teaching more efficient and effective than ever

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