As we drag our heels through the snow towards Christmas Day, it is interesting to hear how different staff approach the festive season with their students. It is a perfect time to present classes with a way in to reflect upon their own performance and achievements and make manageable goals for the year ahead. How can we ensure that students start the new year with a (learning) bang?
I like to hand over to students to manage an award ceremony for specific achievements within the class. These should ideally be aimed at long term achievements, but not necessarily directed at high achieving students. All my classes accumulate a weekly score for their spelling tests. Words provided before the test, and they revise these and spelling strategies with online game resources to assist. So we have a ‘super speller’ reward, for the highest percentage score which they have worked towards since the start of term. Other titles may be subject-specific in the same way. Still, we have ‘most improved,’ ‘dark horse’ that celebrates previously unknown talents, and ‘remember that time’ award when someone blew us away within a particular lesson.
I like to set aside a specific point in our final lessons before Christmas for students to write a letter to either me or themselves, celebrating their achievements and what they have benefited from within the classroom that term. It is preferable to draw on real-life context here, and consider the bigger picture of their learning – what could they now do with what they have learned? It is a nice exercise to complete yourself as they write, so they can see the process in action.
New Years Resolutions
Taking my inspiration from RJ Palacio’s Mr Browne’s Precepts (bit.ly/uked14dec05), I like the idea of creating reflective statements for the year ahead. Rather than setting subject specific targets, students create a motto for themselves to adhere to for the forthcoming year. I intend to follow this up with a homework activity at a later point that will help them reflect and respond to this goal that they have set for themselves.
Once you have been bombarded with gifts and start to tuck into what appears to be the best chocolate box from your pile, it is always good to close the year with a little self-reflection. You are not required to sit crossed legged on your classroom floor with a solitary tear cascading over your cheek. I received a fantastic reflection sheet that allowed me to celebrate my successes during my NQT year, and focus specifically on what I wanted to achieve moving forward. Whilst it is always enjoyable to sprint manically for the door on that final day of term, a few moments to congratulate yourself and realign your aims is a healthy way to close the door on the year and concentrate on out-fattening the turkey.