February is a dreary month. It’s the epitome of winter. It’s the month whose fate hinges on a groundhog named Phil. In short, it’s boring. And the teaching profession does not escape the black hole of Fe-bore-ary. But you’ve made it through that.

Now is when you start to realize just how close the end of the school year truly is. For second year TFA corps members it’s like we are in the senior semester of our corps commitment. If this were our last semester of college, we’d spend every night at the bar congratulating each other for a job well done.  We’d allow ourselves to take classes like Zumba or beer and wine appreciation. Ultimately, we’d find every way to make our senior semester one giant party.

My colleague keeps an end of school countdown on her front board—it’s less than 80 days. But instead of willing those days away, I will make a pledge to utilize this unique learning time. After all, now my students are primed and ready for maximum growth.

Here’s why: 

  1. Solid Procedures make for Solid Learning: It took us an entire semester to find our stride and solidify bathroom waiting lines, center rotations, and behavior tracking. But we did it. Now it’s time to channel my inner Danica Patrick. Rather than allowing my classroom to hum along at a comfortable speed, I should push my kids harder. Since my students feel comfortable and safe in school, they are more susceptible to learning. They absorb concepts faster, and they allow me to introduce new modes and materials for learning.
  2. Foundational Knowledge is easy now: This concept came to me at the end of my first year, at the last possible moment. We learned our letter names and sounds. We mastered our counting and graphing. And instead of allowing my classroom to fall into “finished phase,” I changed my mindset from preschool objectives to (le gasp) Kindergarten objectives. Not every kid can grasp every objective 100 percent—but many are ready to move past your state standards.  Let them.
  3. Comfort can mean Creativity:The best way to combat severe boredom is to mix up your daily grind. Make a musical chairs game out of sight words. Shove your kids in front of some shaving cream for a literacy lesson. Roll up your sleeves and start to play. You might even find yourself excited for some of your more creative lessons. When your lesson plans entertain you, they definitely entertain your kids. This helps with engagement, behavior, and ultimately your happiness.