How many of you had a new planner or personal calendar on your Christmas list? None. Me either, because for teachers the year began in August, and will end in June. Our resolutions and goals, those were set back in the fall when school was just about to start. For teachers, this time of year is not about setting new goals but evaluating the ones we set for our current school year. This is the approach I’ll be taking with my students when we return to the classroom on January 2.

Middle schoolers have a hard time seeing a full year into their futures and let’s be honest, twelve months is a long time. Young teenagers don’t want to think that far into their futures, because a lot can change for them in that amount of time. I’ve already had two students this school year leave my class because their parents decided they wanted to be living in a different state. My guess is that those students didn’t have much say in that decision. This is why I feel resolutions are not practical for middle schoolers or this teacher. From January to June 2018 they will be in middle school, but once the summer hits they take on the new title of Freshman. A very different distinction.

Consider my year, at the start of 2017 I was trying to figure out exactly how I could handle another 6 months nursing my daughter because pumping at school was taking a serious toll on my schedule and sanity. Today, my daughter is a fantastic eater so maybe I can chalk this year up to a success. Either way, the start of my year looks a whole lot different than the end, and that can be difficult to plan for, especially when there are two separate school years on the bookends. I like to think of January as a time to evaluate my teaching thus far and consider how we cross that school year finish line maintaining the pace. My students are keeping track of their major data pieces: AIR test, SRI tests, and CFA quarterly tests. With each score, they are writing a reachable goal for the next opportunity. They also made general reading and writing goals that could be short or long-term. We will have to start talking about what their high school schedule might look like based on how they are meeting goals. Side note, a number of my advanced students will need to seriously consider staying on the advanced track in high school; it’s been a rough first half with turning in quality writing and keeping up with reading assignments. Which is why I prefer to use this time of year as a lesson in evaluation rather than resolution. The goals have been set, now is the time to measure achievements and amend any goals to round out the school year.

I plan to ask my students to answer 3 important questions:

  1. What goals have you reached now that we are at the halfway mark?
  2. What new goals do need to set to finish the school year strong?
  3. What goals do you need to change or create in order to reflect the high school career you envision for yourself?

Their answers will help me have important conversations about making the middle school to high school transition. I’m new to this conversation, so any other 8th grade teachers out there with advice for helping students through this transition be sure to leave a comment.

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