Reorganizing Tips for a Strong Second Semester
Tips to help you stay focused and motivated for the second half of the school year.
By Dawn Dodson
Although it’s almost halfway through the school year, the new semester is a perfect time to stop and reorganize yourself, your students, and your classroom to maintain focus and momentum so you can finish strong. By this point, you’ve established a routine and it’s a well-oiled machine; however, along the way the little things begin to pile up amidst the committee meetings, conferences, and day-to-day paperwork that can only belong to a professional educator. Taking full advantage of the new year can help to refocus and re-shift our energy to the goals we created at the beginning of the year. Here are a few ways to dig in and get started.
Reorganize Yourself and Your Students
At this point in the school year I have accumulated lists, notes, and piles of projects and paperwork that I kept telling myself “I’ll get to later.” Taking the time between semesters to reorganize all of these things helps to prioritize and focus on what lies ahead for both you and your students. The following are tips to re-organize yourself:
- Calendar Clean-Up: Take a look at upcoming events—what’s been changed, added, or taken away? Starting with a clean slate and updated events can help in planning your time, as well as placing your energy where it will be most beneficial.
- Lesson Plans: How far in advance did you plan? Are you following a curriculum guide? If so, you and your pupils are very likely in a different place than you had originally intended. Planning ahead with the focus on the most important standards, ideas, or concepts is crucial, especially if the focus is different than it was at the beginning of the year. This is a great time to prioritize your calendar and plans to fit your students’ learning needs.
- Download: Diminish the piles—lists, worksheets, and memos. Download as much as you can in order to get rid of office and classroom clutter. Using labeled flash drives keeps files categorized for an easy find. If transporting flashdrives can be an issue, using the Cloud is another solution.
- Accordion File: Keep one accordion file in your classroom with missed assignments and information that your pupils may need. Place a student in charge of cleaning and reorganizing the file each week.
- Student Files: The beginning or end of the semester is an opportune time for your class members to practice cleaning and reorganizing materials. What needs to be kept, and what needs to be recycled? Updating their portfolios to reflect current learning starts the second half of the year with a focus and a goal.
Reorganize Your Classroom
- Learning Stations: By the middle of the school year, student learning and supply stations may need some attention. In my classroom, I take this time to replenish writing supplies, reorganize resources, and straighten the classroom library. Things like book sign-out sheets need replenishing as well. This is also a great opportunity to review classroom procedures and routines for station and resource use. I often find that some learners need to be reminded of the resources and materials available to them.
- Syllabus: A semester syllabus serves two purposes: to focus the class on the learning goals for the second half of the year and to review important classroom procedures and strategies. Examples can include how/when to turn in major projects and prepare for formal assessments. Including dates of projects and formal assessments can help both teacher and students to prioritize time to meet specific learning goals.
- Classroom Displays: Some things I tend to let slide are the bulletin boards and classroom learning displays. By the middle of the year, I need to pass back student exemplars to make room for new ones, as well as update bulletin boards to reflect what will be covered the second half of the school year. I have found that creating displays with interactive learning goals for the second half of the year helps keep learners motivated and focused on what needs to be accomplished the second half of the school year.