If you are reading this, I am assuming it is because you need a midyear reset – both for you and your students. Maybe this need to hit the reset button is due to a class that’s become impossible to manage. Or maybe it is because you are running at a pace that you KNOW you cannot sustain for the rest of the school year.
No matter WHY you are reading this, let me first say how GLAD I am that you are here! I am personally not the most naturally optimistic person (my husband says I go all “doomsday” on him, I just like to think of myself as a realist 🤪 ) so I know exactly how it feels to be in a place where you feel like a class, or even your entire year is too far gone to recover.
Let me first say – IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO HIT THE RESET BUTTON!!! Not only is it never too late, I actually think a midyear reset is the PERFECT time to do an audit of your year thus far, and refresh some of your practices – both in and out of the classroom – that may have gone awry so far this year.
There is NO reason to chalk this year up (or that class you are thinking of) as a loss. No class or year is ever too far gone, or too far past redemption!
So let’s do a factory reset on this whole operation, shall we? I am going to walk you through 4 key ways you can do a midyear reset to reclaim your school life AND life outside of school (what’s that??)
Midyear Reset Step #1: Reset your PROCEDURES.
First and foremost, let’s reset your procedures. I firmly believe that individual behavioral issues are best fixed on a relational level.
I also really believe that whole class behavioral issues can be prevented with well-established, communicated, and reinforced procedures. This is because set procedures allow you to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to classroom issues.
So let’s start by doing an audit of your classroom procedures. Consider any routines you have, protocols you’ve established, or habits you may or may not have purposefully reinforced.
- When do you get the most frustrated during your class period? Is there a certain time (like the first few minutes, or when you are transitioning between things, or collecting supplies for labs, etc.) that you get the most exasperated by your students?
- Are there certain situations that you find any time you are in you are led to feel impatient, frustrated, or even angry at your students?
- Are there questions your students ask that make you want to rip your eyeballs out, punch a hole, through your whiteboard, or that incite any other sort of violent reaction? (If you haven’t been around here long, I love hyperbole and hope these aren’t actually actions you ever feel driven towards.)
Make a list of anything you thought of when you read those questions. Now next to each of these things, write a new classroom procedure you can teach your students to remedy this issue. Are students annoying you to death with requests to go to the bathroom? Write up a new bathroom policy to enforce. Feel like the first five minutes of class are mass chaos every day? Create a new routine to teach your students.
Not sure where to begin? Here are the five most important procedures and routines I think every high school science teacher needs to teach their students.
I will warn you: it is more challenging to teach these procedures midyear. BUT I will say – starting fresh with a midyear reset right after a holiday break is the PERFECT time. It will take more energy and effort to reset any habits that have been instilled, but this is a really natural transition time midyear to do it, so take advantage of it!
All it takes to have a midyear reset of your procedures is to (1) clearly define them and communicate them to your students and (2) consistently reinforce them until they become second nature. YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Now that it feels like you have some steps to make some progress with how your class is run and your students are managed, let’s do a midyear reset of the physical space you teach in.
Midyear Reset Step #2: Reset your CLASSROOM.
Whether you have a full classroom and accompanying lab space or a cart you wheel around the school, you most likely have some sort of space that is “yours”. You may have done a thorough spring cleaning before the end of school, or you may not have enough known what you were teaching, let alone WHERE, until a few days before school started.
Regardless of your situation, I can bet that ALL of our spaces could use a little midyear reset. If you are in a room that just feels STUFFED and cluttered, and ESPECIALLY if you have drawers, closets, or filing cabinets with things you’ve never even sorted through, now is a GREAT time to hit the reset button and get your space in order to start the end of the year STRONG!
Overwhelmed and not sure where to begin? I’ve got you!! Organization is my love language, and I know what it is like to inherit a classroom from a retiring teacher who left files from 1982, dozens of decades-old textbooks, and who only KNOWS what in those unidentifiable jars in your back corner cabinet. Click here to download my classroom reset challenge for free!
It will walk you through 5 aspects of your space with step-by-step tasks to help you get the refresh you desire without feeling overwhelmed. I recommend doing 1 area a day over the course of a week, but you can also binge the challenge and do it all in one day if you prefer!
I love to do this two times a year – once in May when the year is wrapping up so I can feel super organized going into summer, and a second midyear reset in December or January. I especially love to tackle each task while I am in my room monitoring midterm exams because they don’t require my undivided attention as grading does. Speaking of grading, it most likely takes up a LOT of your time – which is another thing due for a midyear reset!
Midyear Reset Step #3: Reset your TIME.
To reset your year and reclaim your life in your classroom, you really need to reset your procedures and your space. But the REAL reset work comes from reclaiming your life OUTSIDE of school, and to do that, we need to hit the reset button on how you spend your time.
I recommend doing two things. First, make a list of what you value as a teacher. What are your goals for yourself as a teacher? What do you hope to instill in your students? What skills, knowledge, or life lessons do you want them to take with them when they leave your classroom? What do you want to be remembered for?
Second, do a time audit. I want you to take one week, Sunday-Saturday, or Monday-Sunday (however you view your weeks) and be CRAZY detailed in listing out every single thing you do each day and how long it takes. I recommend having a journal or notebook, and every time you eat a meal for those 7 days (which is hopefully 3x in a day), list what you’ve done to that point and how long each thing took you.
For example, I normally wake up at 6 and eat breakfast at 7, lunch at 12, and dinner at 6. At breakfast, I would write a list with time blocks for what I had done since dinner (this is the longest chunk of time but hopefully you are sleeping a good bit of it!!) Then at lunch, I would record what I had done from 7-12. Maybe you drove to work for 10 min, then did emails for 20 min, then taught 3 back-to-back classes for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Do this again at dinner for the next chunk of 6 hours (or however many).
I know this seems like a lot, but I just want you to try it for one week. You will be absolutely FLABBERGASTED when it is all written out where you are spending most of your time. Putting it all on paper (or typing into a note on your phone – whatever!!) will be disturbingly eye-opening for you to see and quantify where you waste time in your day.
The first time I did this when I was teaching full time, I was absolutely blown away by how much time I was wasting answering emails (it felt like just a little bit here and there but it REALLY added up), and also how much time I was spending grading. So I did a MAJOR reset on my grading methods and it changed so much.
Once you’ve done both of these things, compare your lists of (1) what you value and (2) where you are spending your time. Do they align? Is the pace you are running at sustainable?
If you answered no to either of those questions, NOW is the time to decide on what changes you need to make in order to make those two lists align and create a SUSTAINABLE work/life balance so you can thrive and not just survive in this career. I stopped doing a lot of things (here are 4 that immediately simplified my life) and it really made such a big difference. I urge you to take the time to make this a part of your midyear reset!
What I’ve found from my conversations with so many teachers over the years is that one of our major suckers of energy and time is grading. So let’s reset your grading methods!
Midyear Reset Step #4: Reset your GRADING METHODS.
You’ve hopefully already done an audit of how you are spending your time – now let’s zoom in specifically on the efficiency and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of your grading methods. Ask yourself:
- Do I REALLY need to collect and grade all that I am grading?
- Is there any way I can simplify the way my gradebook is set up?
- This one may be trickier in a midyear reset, but is still great to consider before next school year.
- What can I start spot-checking for completion?
- How can I better use my school day time (planning period, lunch block, small chunks before and after school when you are in the building) to knock out my grading and NOT bring it home?
If you aren’t sure where to begin, I recommend trying these 4 ways to decrease your grading time. They literally cut my grading time in half!
I hope this leaves you energized and encouraged to have a midyear reset and hit the refresh button on your “classroom browser” and “life browser”. It’s not too late to start anew! I am rooting for you!!