Before I start sharing tips/ideas, I want to start this blogpost by reminding anyone reading it that this is just an idea to help you and not to make you feel bad or put you under extra pressure etc. I know the next day and a half will be a bit manic but if you have a spare few minutes when the children are watching a Christmas movie or playing a game then these tips might make your life easier in January.
Personally, I’ll be running out the door when the bell rings at 12pm on Tuesday and hopefully I’ll have all these few things organised in time before then!
Returning to school
Like always, the first few days after the holidays are really exhausting so having a few things ready to go before you arrive on Wednesday morning will definitely make things run smoother. There’s a mixture of excitement and tiredness from everyone – both staff and students. Everyone will be excitedly sharing their Christmas news and everything they got up to over the holidays.
Starting in a new school/role
If you’re starting in a new role it’s a good idea to just take things really slowly. Begin to build positive relationships with your students, play games, tell them a little about yourself and share some of the exciting things you’ll be teaching them over the next few months. It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the class routines and run through any new routines you want to use too. (Personally, I’d try not to introduce too much at once as you want to keep things as normal as possible for the children – especially this year). At the same time, you are the class teacher now so make small changes as you see fit throughout the year, you don’t have to fill someone else’s shoes or follow someone else exactly!
One of the most important things that the children will need when they return to school in January is routine. Routines help everyone to feel safe when they’re in school and prevent issues with behaviour and classroom management. I always spend some time revising these routines with my class over the first few days.
My plan for the first few days will mostly centre around revision particularly in the core subjects.
We’ll be starting a new novel (Holes) in January. So we’ll read some of that together and work on comprehension skills.
In oral language lessons, we’ll look at goals and aims for 2021 and this will link in well with SPHE lessons.
We’ll start narrative writing too. So the first three days will be ‘magpie’ work where the children will write lists of characters, settings, problems/events and write short stories based on these.
We’ll spend the first three days focussed on revision. We’ll do Work it Out each day (that usually takes around 20 minutes) and then we’ll spend a day on operations, a day on fractions and a day on percentages. Depending on how the first three days go, I’ll continue with one of these topics for the first week or else move onto a new topic altogether.
In Irish, I won’t start a new theme until the first full week so we’ll practice some oral language and also focus on sentence structure and write a few short sentences about our Christmas holidays.
We’ll do some work in Geography during the first few days. We’ll revise the capitals of Europe and do some work on the E.U. and Brexit too.
For Music, we’ll revise rhythm and the treble clef.
Drama will be improvisation.
I spotted these nice Art lessons below which will be perfect for the first three days.
This was last years art which could work well again!
We’ll be focussed on goals and aims for 2021. We’ll also be looking at growth mindset in greater detail in January.
We’ll have one P.E. lesson on Thursday afternoon so we’ll probably do something like 5 corners.
What to have ready?
Personally, I won’t be doing a huge amount of photocopying etc. for the first few days back. The ideas I’ve shared above will be split out over the three days and none involve any major preparation so I’ll just write these into my planner in a more clear way tomorrow so I’ll be fully ready then.
However, if you do have anything you’d like to do over the first few days and it needs to be photocopied – try get it done tomorrow so you won’t be stressing on the first morning back!
My desk currently looks as if a bomb has hit it and I’ve somehow managed to do this in other corners of the classroom so my aim is to get these sorted tomorrow so they’ll be clear and ready to go in January.
Take it down and send it home tomorrow or Tuesday! It’s great to start the new year with clear display areas. I might even take the Christmas tree down before we leave on Tuesday!
Changing seats/ Classroom layout
I need to change my pods around before we arrive back in January. Changing pods and knowing the children will be in the same pods for an extended period means that the pods will take considerable time to organise. (I usually change fortnightly but that’s not possible with covid)
Two weeks ago, I gave my class a piece of paper and asked them to make their own pod so I’ll use these (where appropriate) to make the pods so the children will be sitting with at least 1/2 friends.