From The

Balcony

From The

Balcony

From The

Balcony

School Year Resolutions

Is it that time already (it feels like just yesterday that we were writing about activities to kick off the summer!)?  Whether you’re already in school or are about to get started, this time of year is often filled with mixed emotions for educators, parents and students, who are missing summer already but are also excited for a year of opportunities ahead. To ensure we are all able to take full advantage of those opportunities, we wanted to provide some insight to start the year off strong!

Set SMART Goals

Even though it’s a brand new school year, going through the daily motions can sometimes feel repetitive and predictable. It’s up to us to challenge ourselves, step outside of our comfort zones, try new things, and continue to grow! You can accomplish this by setting SMART goals. These are short and long term goals for the school year that will help you to make the year productive and successful! To have the best chance of achieving the goals we set, use the information in this link to make them SMART. Keep them in a notebook, on a dream board, or by the door, anywhere where you can see them as a daily reminder to actively work towards them and follow through on your commitments to themselves.

Manage Time Effectively

Practice good time management! It may seem silly, but most of us haven’t ever been taught this skill and are just expected to know how to do it well! There are a number of tools that you can use that can help to manage time more effectively so that you can do more of the things that you want to do! Try out a few to see which one works best for you:

  • Printable Schedules: print weekly schedules and fill them out with everything that will take up your time each day. You can also use your phone calendar if that works for you, but many people find that a hard copy is helpful in being accountable!
  • Bullet Journals: Bullet Journals are all the rage right now! Bullet journals help you to value your time, be mindful, and also productive in all aspects of your life! Check out this website for ideas on how to get started!
  • To Do Lists: Use a whiteboard, your phone Reminders, a notebook, or apps like Quip to manage all of the tasks that you need to accomplish.
  • Cloud Storage: Whether you use Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, or other data drives, storing information online is one of the best ways to keep you organized while also securing, backing up, and sharing important data like group projects or final papers!  

Practice Self Care

We all are constantly juggling school/work, extracurriculars, family, and a social life. Trying to achieve balance can be extremely overwhelming and can lead to feelings of burnout or actually falling through on responsibilities. It’s important for us to make time for ourselves so that we can accomplish all of the things that we need to while staying happy and healthy! Read up on Self Care 101 and then create your own 21 Day Self-Care Challenge. What are some little things you can do each day that demonstrate love and care for yourself? Start with 21 days to practice and build positive and healthy habits and it will build on making them unquestionable parts of our daily lives because we are worth it!

Make Your School A Better Place

“One person can make a difference and every person should try” – President JFK

Students, educators, AND parents play a major role in creating the climate and culture of the learning environment that we are a part of. We can either help to foster a positive community or we can detract from or harm that community with the things that we say and do. Brainstorm some things that you can actually do as individuals or together as a class or family that would make your school a better place for everyone. Then, go out and actually do them!

By taking the time to implement some of these strategies, you’ll be setting yourself up for an entire year of success.  Take advantage of every opportunity and have a great start to your school year! Let us know in the comments what else you do that helps you to start the year off on the right foot!

* Leadership Lesson *
For Educators

As an educator, we know you have a lot to accomplish with your students in a very short amount of time and with limited resources. So, we’ve chosen activities that will guide you through the Forming stage of the Group Development Model that require little to no supplies and can be completed in the first fifteen minutes of class! These kinds of Forming activities connect you to your class and connect your students to each other. They generate buy in and care for the group and what they are learning together.

Set Group Goals and Groundrules

Set the norms and tone for the year by establishing agreed upon group goals and groundrules. A goal should be something specific that your class hopes to achieve in their time together. Groundrules help students to achieve their goals by setting expectations for actions and attitudes that will contribute to a safe classroom space and a positive group experience. You can set some to start and then ask students to add their own. Post these in your classroom so that you can refer to them or check in on them throughout the year.

Break the Ice

Get comfortable with each other by leading your group through easy and fun name games and icebreakers!

Name Games. Remembering names at the beginning the school year can be so challenging, these name games make learning names easy and fun!

  • Name Olympics: each person comes up with an alliteration for their name (can be an adjective or verb) and a corresponding action to go along with it.
  • Magic Box: Tell a story with your group while learning each other’s names! Be silly, have fun, and see where the story goes!
  • Group Juggle: In this activity, students learn each others names while trying to pass different objects around the circle.

Icebreakers. While many educators and students alike have a love/hate relationship with icebreakers, they really do serve an important purpose in the forming of a group! Icebreakers are effective because they break down barriers between people and help them get to know each other better.

  • Flash: In this activity everyone gets the chance to ask a question that the whole class will then go around and answer. It’s called Flash because it’s supposed to be fast!
  • Dyads: students pair up with each other and answer questions that will help them to learn a little bit about each other!
  • Gotcha: this is a fun game that will help to bring up the energy in the classroom!

Getting to Know You Activities. Getting to Know You Activities are used to deepen relationships between people and are typically higher risk, asking participants to more vulnerable and trusting in one another.   

  • Human Billboards: In this activity, students will design a ‘billboard’ for themselves. What do they want others in their class to know about them?
  • Hopes and Fears: Students have the opportunity to anonymously share their hopes and fears for the year, building trust and understanding through the process.
  • Group Profile: This is a great way for your entire group to contribute to something together. Students get to discuss shared interests, goals, and develop group cohesion.

*Meet the Author*

Caelan Cooney is another Millennial who wants ‘to make an impact’, a self-proclaimed movie critic, avid explorer, lifelong learner, and Chapman University graduate.