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January is typically the time of year for resolutions and starting over. We’ve all read the articles and blogs expounding on how lose weight, exercise more, read more, be more fully present, etc.   I hadn’t expected to write a follow up to Here We Go, 2011, but I did. As I began to gather my thoughts and energy for the return to school next week, I re-read that post and copies of the third graders who did the real work reflecting on hopes and dreams.   Go ahead, read the original post, Here We Go.

It served as a good reminder to me that this is  the time of year that lends itself to looking back on our fall hopes and dreams, as well as our class guidelines, in order to set our sights on what lies ahead.  LIke the Japanese tradition of Oshogatsu, or purifying one’s home (or classroom) for the upcoming year, it is a time to re-group and recommit.  While resolutions and promises may seem trendy, a bit of self-reflection and goals setting is a life skill. One of those “soft-skills” we need to make the time to model, teach, practice and celebrate.

As we transition back to our routines fresh from a two-week break, it will be important to remind ourselves of our guidelines and routines.   Of course, we’ll use the Responsive Classroom practices of positive teacher language, interactive modeling and lots of practice. It will be happening, not just in my humanities classroom, but throughout our school, preschool through eighth grade. I’ll peek down the hall at our sixth graders and spy on how much they’ve grown since January 2011 when they wrote the goals outlines in my last post on this topic.  I’m pretty certain it will make me smile.

But my real focus will be on my current fifth graders – helping them reflect on their hopes from September and then set some new goals for the remainder of the trimester and then the final trimester of the year. Need some guidance or encouragement to do dig in and invest the energy to do this with your students? Margaret Berry Wilson shares some beautiful read alouds in her post Revisiting Hopes and Dreams in the New Year.  Margaret also explains how  to Use Y Charts for Revisiting the Rules.  (Be sure to watch the video of Susie Gosh to see how she skillfully facilitates a third grade class discussion on this topic.) Both are inspiring and actionable, no matter what your experience with revisiting hopes and dreams mid-year.

I’m lucky to be in a school where this is a community-wide approach so this is a familiar January-jumping off point in for many of us. But sometimes I feel the urge to mix it up a bit, just to keep things fresh. I’ve got some tried-and-true read alouds and lessons I may use, or maybe I’ll branch out and try something new like One Word to describe our hopes and dreams. Thankfully, I’ve got a couple more snowy and chilly days to mull it over.

If you’re a teacher, how do you revisit hopes and dreams in January?  Consider posting a few ideas – or even your One Word – here. And enjoy the last few days of the holiday break!

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Lisa Dewey Wells

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