Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year! The new year is a great time to evaluate and assess your classroom. I think of it as "halftime" - almost halfway through the year, we get a chance to rethink and regroup. What worked well? What needs to go? What things in our control can we change for the benefit of our students?

What worked well this year?
I'm really pleased with the work my students have put in so far this year. It's tough to get used to a new way of teaching, a new person in the lead, a new style of learning, but my kids are doing great! We have been building relationships, stretching our comfort zones and trying new things all year - I have to admit - it's exhausting!

I'm really looking forward to the next semester even more than the first. There's not nearly as much "unknown;" they know who I am and my expectations and I know where they are musically, and most importantly - I know a TON of their names! It's so exciting to plan for a group of great students who love to learn new things and who love music!

I'm planning to amp it up (again!) and increase the challenge level, and of course have some fun along the way!

Biggest Challenges

Halftime is a great time to throw out plays that didn't work, change it up, and design a slightly altered path for your students. 

For me, our 6-day rotation has turned out to be quite a challenge! Since I see the classes less often, I have to cram more into each lesson, but I also have to spend more time reviewing. I have altered my plans by doing "mini" units, and teaching a concept in 3 weeks instead of stretching it out to 4 or 5.

For the first semester at a new school, students are still learning expectations/procedures and relationships are still in the most fragile state of newness. I ended up playing games a little longer than intended, giving a few extra turns at activities, which resulted in hitting the highlights of the "practice" section of my lesson, instead of digging deeper. Whoops!

I know we will be jumping into our 5th grade musical as soon as we return to school on Monday (yikes!). In my other grade levels, we will be pushing ahead with smaller "mini" units, practicing known concepts on instruments and learning more games of course!

New Things Ahead!
Here are a few plans that I have for this upcoming semester:

Personal: Date night! Last semester seems like a whirlwind of marching band practice, Veterans Day rehearsals, and basketball games! This semester should have a different pace and I'm hoping to plan a few extra date nights. With honors chorus, 5th grade musical, 4th grade musical and Picnic with the Arts on the horizon, I'm going to need some down time with my husband to keep my sanity intact.

Health: I have a simple goal for my health for this semester - stretch! There's always the "eat less junk" and "exercise more" ideals floating out there and each year I do well (or don't) at small measurable improvements. This year, I wanted a different goal - stretch. Yes, I will probably do some yoga and physical stretching, but it's more than that. I want to see what I can do. I'm a part of a group of ladies online who have challenged me beyond measure this year and I want to continue that growth. I want to push ahead into being who God intends me to be.
Classroom: Speak less! Sing more! Make music more! Now that our first semester is behind us, I feel like we will be able to get more done with less talking. Of course I'll still have to review procedures from time to time, but we will be constantly pushing towards the student-led warm-ups, smoother (non-talking) transitions, easier distribution of materials, etc. That first semester always feels "clunky" to me and I'm excited to see those bumps and chunks smoothing out.

Blog/TpT: Keep it simple! I have several smaller products in the works and I would love to get those finished and into my store before I start any more big projects. I have a few things that I use in my classroom that I would like to put in my store as well. I'm planning a blog series on our upcoming musical and I have to remind myself to keep it simple! Shorter posts with more pictures - coming soon!

Today I'm having a sale in my store! Get 20% off the entire store today and tomorrow only!

What do you have planned for the New Year? Blog about it and link up with us here!