Beth Hanlon, OFLA Immediate Past President
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin High School
The ball drops in Times Square and “2019” lights up! We congratulate each other on the arrival of the New Year with kisses, hugs, and cheers…assuming you were able to stay awake! The fresh start associated with the new year is easily observed when our social media feeds become monopolized by check-ins at local gyms and recipes being posted seem a little healthier.
Many of us head back to school in early January to the final week of the second quarter and midterms exams. Others lug back the pile of midterm exams they graded over winter break and early January immediately begins the third quarter. With either scenario, January brings the middle of “the year.”
As teachers, our “new [school] year”’ can seem a little different because our fresh start comes in August. But we are fortunate because we do not need to wait until the following August to make fresh starts in order to make the current year effective, impactful, and memorable for our students.
Our fresh start opportunities are around every corner during the school year. We have larger, more obvious fresh start moments when new quarters or semesters begin. These are points in the year where it makes sense for teachers to change something that isn’t working in their classrooms or to implement something new. (Why not try a Movie Talk? Teach a reader? Go deskless?)
Starting fresh does not have to be at a “monumental occasion” during the school year like a new quarter. You can start fresh on a Monday or a Thursday. If you feel a fresh start is needed in your classroom, start it as soon as you are ready! (Attend a local PD on a Saturday and get a great idea? Why not throw that great idea into your Monday lesson plan?)
Above all, we can’t forget that our relationships with students can always start fresh too. We need to participate in restorative practices with our students when we hit bumps in the road with them.
As professional educators, we can always have fresh starts with our teaching practices. Don’t ever hesitate to take advantage of a conference or workshop at any point in the school year! (Insert shameless plug for the joint CSCTFL/OFLA conference in March 2019 in Columbus!)
As much as I cherish this time off from school, I look forward to returning to the middle of the [school] year to take advantage of the many fresh start opportunities that await before the year ends in June!