If we let it, January can become a magical month of renewal.
With the holidays behind us and the second half of the school year in sight, here are three reasons this educator treasures the month of January.
1) January is a time for fresh starts and big plans. How can you beat a chance at all things new again? A new day! A new month! A new year! I love a fresh start and January is brimming with fresh start possibilities .
Since I was a kid, I’ve cherished a ritual of reflection and resolutions on New Year’s Day. When I was no more that 6 or 7 years old, Grandma Pauline put paper and pen in front of me at the kitchen table on New Year’s morning. She did so with complete seriousness and expectation. She made me feel as though I was really in charge of my own life – like the things I committed to intentionally could truly affect what kind of a person I became that year.
Whether at home or at school, I can’t think of a holiday tradition more simple and powerful. Take time to reflect on your life. Recognize what’s worth continuing and what you might like to change. Resolve to make a change or to recommit to things you value. Write it down. Share it with others. Make a plan. Begin.
2) January is prime real estate for learning. January is the month I crown KING OF LEARNING. The fall “getting to know you period” is past. We’ve survived the craziness of December. We’ve developed a clear sense of our students needs and interests. So, January is GO time for learning. Often the longest month of the learning year with the fewest commercial interruptions; we can accomplish so much in January.
Whether it terrifies you or thrills you, January is HUMP month on the educational calendar. By the time this month is done, we’ll have used over half of the days our kids were allocated for learning year this school year. Every day is precious and we all know how quickly they start to slip away once January is gone. So, let’s dig in and make every minute count.
3) January is time to partner with students in taking stock.
January is not just time for us to take stock in our personal and professional lives. It’s also time to take stock of learning. In many schools January means mandatory mid-year assessments. Regardless of the assessment particulars, if we really want to make the most of the information we gather, it can’t be for adult eyes only. Now is the right time to sit side-by-side with every learner, reflecting on progress and working together to set meaningful goals for the next stretch.
Just as Grandma Pauline trusted me to set worthy and meaningful goals for myself, we can empower students to help set the course for their own learning lives. Let’s do what we can to help them take the reigns. Let’s face that fact that without their partnership, our best efforts will fall short. Teaching is not something we can “do to them”. A commitment to honestly partner with students toward intentional learning goals is a resolution worthy of every one of us.
As you head back to school this week, I hope you do so with a renewed sense of optimism and importance of the work that lies in front of us. This is the most important work in the world. Our kids only get one January this year. Let’s make it matter.
Reflect. Resolve. Refresh. Rethink. Recommit.
Happy New Year. Bring on the learning!