The 1st 20 days of school are critical to starting your journey to excellence, and now they are coming to an end for many students. So what does that mean and what is the next step? That means that what kids have done everyday since the first day of school is now a habit, and the next step is to break bad habits and solidify habits of excellence.
So What Habits have your Kids Formed?
Do your students have productive habits? Have the built habits that will lead to excellence, or have they created habits of avoidance? Do they instinctively jump into a new task with a groan once it is announced, or do their eyes light up because they are conditioned to embrace uncertainty? The answers to these questions culminate into one question.
How well did you do at establishing your vision for excellence in the 1st 20 days?
If your vision of excellence is not where you want it to be, that's ok. In fact, that's great because acknowledging you're not where you want to be means that you want to make meaningful change to get back on the path to excellence.
The next step to making the 2nd 20 days of school great for all kids is to see what kind of habits have formed with individual students especially those who struggle.
- Resources - Determine how competent kids are with your resources for learning. If they don't like the resources or don't know how to use them, that reinforces habits of avoidance.
- Routines - Assess your routines and procedures and determine where students need higher expectations or even accountability from you.
- Relationships - Identify which students have negative relationships with you, your content or with students in the room. Relationships are critical to success in learning.
- Engagement - Evaluate where your lesson planning fails to meet struggling students head-on. The failure to engage specific students guarantees that habits of poor performance that become petrified and therefore unbreakable.
- Rigor - Which content is too challenging for kids? How can you make it more accessible and ultimately attainable to learn?
- Differentiation - How many minutes of learning are students empowered to chase their learning through intervention and extension? The answer to this question will lead you to create need learning experiences to reinforce positive learning habits.
- Celebration - What are you celebrating? Better yet, what are the kids celebrating? If it's the end of class, it's time to build celebration into your instruction.
The 2nd 20 Days = 1st 20 Days + 1 Focus on Excellence
The 1st 20 Days of school establish the pathway to excellence, but the 2nd 20 days can either accelerate or stall your growth towards excellence. If we want the next 20 days of school to accelerate growth, we must reflect. We must brave enough, vulnerable enough and critical of ourselves and our work so that we can find our areas or opportunities for growth (aka weaknesses). Then and only then will we discover how to make the 2nd 20 Days of School even better than the 1st 20.