Walking into The New Year with Heart

elementary classroom elementary teacher end of the year first grade teacher second grade teacher teacher tips

As the end of the year approaches, we can feel one of two ways: excited to create goals and vision for the new year, or extremely overwhelmed at that thought

We get stuck wondering things like, “Where do I even start?” or “Are setting goals even worth it?”

When you’re unsure about the best way to start, it becomes overwhelming.

The good news is the new year can actually be extremely refreshing if you allow it to be. It grants you a fresh start, a time to get rid of harming habits, and to create new ones. It can be really fun and enjoyable if you allow it to be. 

In this post, I’ll walk you through 3 steps to walking into the new year strong. I hope that this will give you a roadmap so you can get started with planning and vision casting and making it all a little less overwhelming for you. 

What is the perfect way to enjoy your break while prepping for the new year?

Many teachers spend a majority of their break worrying about unfinished school tasks and the work they will have to do to play catch-up, which leads to them not getting an adequate break AWAY to be with their family and loved ones. Without time to unplug completely from their teacher life and classroom, walking into the new year with last year's concerns/worries/and to-do’s can feel even more heavy. 

In other words:

It's important for teachers to step away, unplug, recover, and recharge. A break allows you to come back with a clear head, so you can begin planning for the new year and feel excited to set new goals with your students and your class.

Breaks are good! They’re there for a reason. But we are wasting them when we are not truly taking a break because our brains are still on “go” mode. Take a good and relaxing break so when it’s time to start planning for the new year, you feel excited and ready for what that entails. 

In this blog, I will give you 3 practical tips to help you step into the new year. This should help guide you through the steps you need to take in order to enter the new year in a great mindset. 

Become Aware of Problems

A great way to step into the new year is by having a good understanding of what needs to change. 

This is a crucial component because without knowing what went wrong, we won’t know how to change or be better in the next year.

Many people may feel overwhelmed by the thought of criticizing what went wrong in the past year, but it is actually key to starting off a new year on the right foot. 

When we aren’t honest with ourselves, it hinders us from success.

The key to targeting the problems that happened within the classroom is asking the hard questions. Some examples are “What things were chaotic within our classroom systems this year?”, “What things weren’t working for us?”, “What feels most overwhelming for me and my students?”.

Defining the problems you faced this year will set you for success when you step into this new year. This is a great first step in setting yourself up to thrive in the new year. 

Reflect and Review

Going along with recognizing the problems of last year, it is extremely key to reflect and review the past year in order to step into this new year. 

When you're ready to start thinking about walking into the new year with your class, sit down and begin some reflection whether that's journaling on a blank sheet of paper or reflecting as you are cutting lamination/or lesson planning. 

Think about what really worked well for you in the first half of the school year. What did your students respond well to? What happened at school on the days you left feeling fulfilled? When did you feel most prepared and why was that? What are the routines in your classroom that are not serving you and your students?

Asking these questions will help you pinpoint what you’re taking into the new year and what you are leaving behind. 

If in previous years you were excited to step into the new year but it seemed like nothing really changed, I’m sure that reflection and self-awareness of what needs to change was something that was missing.

Without this, you can try to implement the things that you think will work and still not be making changes that will really make the difference.

Being self-aware and having a well-rounded view on the past year will allow you to pinpoint exactly what is needed when stepping into the new year.

Set in Place New Habits to Thrive

Now that you have defined problems, reflected and reviewed, now it’s time to get practical and implement.

A huge way to step into the new year in a great headspace is to feel organized and structured. Getting organized not only helps you with your mental-health and success but also it contributes to the calm, peaceful environment you want to provide your students with. Everyone thrives in an organized space because things are easy to find, you are able to think more clearly and make better choices, etc. 


Here are step-by-step tips to feeling organized and ready to step into the new year:

  1. Get your materials organized! Organizing and sorting classroom materials is key to a smooth and efficient learning environment. Clean out materials and supplies- pick a closet, a drawer, or a bin to organize and sort through! Take this time to clean through materials, organize, and my personal favorite PURGE (or donate to other teachers in your building- maybe do a teacher swap?)!

  2. Tame those papers! Papers PILE UP in your classroom and right before winter break is a great time to tame the chaos. Organize your teacher desk and important papers. I promise you will feel so much better walking into your room after a break to a clean desk! Start by taking everything off your desk and organize your supplies. Recycle the papers you haven’t gotten to (I won’t tell the grading fairies) or send them home with students.

  3. Make your return a breeze. We know how hard it can be to transition back to school after winter break for you & your students. We also know this is the LAST thing you want to think about right now, but getting your copies made and plans in place for your return week is necessary for enjoying your break to the fullest. Plan some time to review classroom routines and expectations with your students since we all know coming back after a break is the perfect time for a reset.

This is what will really make you feel mentally and physically ready to take on the new year. Yes, this step can be daunting, but you will never regret getting your classroom organized. It truly takes a load off of your shoulders when you know where everything is and know you are organized. 

Putting it All Together to Step Into the New Year Thriving

There you have it! The 3 components to thrive in the new year. 

It may sound like a lot, but like most things practice makes perfect. Just focus on one thing at a time. This will help you feel excited about the new year ahead. See it as a fresh start, new things can be exciting! New routines and creating the best environment for you and your classroom. 

What’s next? Join the Classroom Systems mini-course!

You are now aware and ready to step into the new year with a breeze. As you uplevel your world as a teacher, it is easy to think you need all the things teacher influencers talk about all the time. In reality, your classroom is yours for a reason. Only get what you need!

If you need help getting started defining what that is, my mini-course, Classroom Systems, will help you even more with confidently preparing to step into the new year.

>> Click here to join the Classroom Systems mini-course now 


Want to uplevel as a teacher? Click here to join the waitlist for my best-selling program, The Heart-Centered Classroom Instructional Toolkits.

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