I’ve always found the irony in that I get to experience the back-to-school nightmares and butterflies twice a year since I teach on a block schedule. Just when this introverted teacher gets to know and feels comfortable with my fall semester students, it’s time to learn 100 new smiling faces in January!
My traditional back-to-school ideas never seem quite right in the new year, so I’ve come up with back-to-school ideas that are better fitting for returning January. If you are lucky (or one could say unlucky?) enough to teach the same students after Christmas, these ideas can help you reconnect and set the tone for the rest of your year as well!
UPDATE: I recently added new post exclusively for English teachers! Check the New Year ELA ideas here: Middle & High School ELA New Year Activities
1. New Year Conversation Starters- Last year I found some free NYE conversation starters on Pinterest and had them setting out on desks when students arrived back for their first day of the new semester. We didn’t use them until later in the class, so this gave students lots of thinking time before we needed them as group talking points. While these conversation starters worked in a pinch, I wanted to take this idea a step further by incorporating Growth Mindset into our discussion. I created 40 New Year Growth Mindset Conversation Starters that serve as icebreakers as well mindset promotion.
2. Growth Mindset Get-To-Know-You- Instead of doing my traditional get-to-know-you survey, I want to incorporate growth mindset for the new year. There’s so much you can learn about students by their mindset, and I truly believe that helping students change their mindset from fixed to growth could be the single most important factor in their future success. To help my students visualize this change, I came up with a color-coding activity. Students reflect on their “black and white” fixed mindset and work to change this to a “colorful” growth mindset.
3. Making Reading Resolutions- One of my back-to-school stations includes choosing a free-reading book for our daily reading. To make this more fitting for the new year, I made some New Year Bookmarks and a Reading Challenge to inspire my students to read more in the new year.
If you are an English teacher, you can find many more New Year ELA activity ideas in this post.
You can get these bookmarks and reading challenge for free by signing up for my newsletter here: