Maybe you've had an awful start to the school year (that has been me several times in my teaching career, including 4 years ago which was just awful for many reasons). Maybe you've actually had a great start to the year. Maybe you're just tired of the same old stuff. No matter where you are right now, this time heading into the new year is a great time to make some positive changes to keep you going in the new year.
I have been putting together these "Fresh Start Checklists" for 3 years now, and every year I have made some tweaks to the list, or added some additional items that I want to look at. For this year, I made one big change that mostly affects all of you: the list is editable! So this year if you want to use this list for yourself, you can remove, change, and add your own items to the lists to fit your needs.
The checklist includes basic organizing and cleaning tasks, like cleaning off the desk, organizing the closet, and sorting through materials. It also includes some prompts of things to think through over the break to help move towards a fresh start, like taking another look at behavior management strategies, seating charts, and lesson plans (if you're hoping to take a fresh look at your behavior management, like I was 4 years ago, take a look at this post I wrote with all of the changes I put into place in my own classroom).
This year I am adding one more question to my own list: who are the students with whom I am close to making a connection, and how can I foster that relationship? I know that, with over 300 students to teach, I'm not going to form deep relationships with all of my students. I also know that some students I already have that connection with- they are the ones that look forward to coming to music every week. It's their "safe place", and I am, for some of them, the most important adult in their life. What I want to focus on over the break is those kids with whom I could develop that same deep relationship but haven't yet. Those kids that need a positive adult relationship in their life, who enjoy music class, but with whom I haven't yet connected on a deeper level- that level where they feel they can confide in me about the big things happening in their lives, or come to me when they need help. As I think about the new year this year, I want to make a short list of students that I think I could potentially connect with on a deeper level, and come up with some specific ways to try to develop that relationship.
Every student needs to have someone at school with whom they can connect. I can't be that person for every single student, but I want to continue to do my part to seek out the ones for whom I can be that important person.
I hope you will all have some time, heading into the new year, to take stock of where you are and take some steps to make positive changes in your classroom. If you're interested in seeing my lists (I have one list for the music classroom and one for home/life outside of school) to help you make your own, you can download them for free by clicking on the picture below. What are some things you want to focus on this year? Leave a comment down below!