3 Absolute Must-Do’s for Upper Elementary Teachers in January

3 Absolute Must-Do's For Upper Elementary Teachers in January by The Teacher Next Door PIn

It might be hard to believe, but January is already here again! The school year is certainly flying by. I hope that you and your students are coming back after Winter Break refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of the year! 

Since it’s a kind of half way point (depending on when your school year starts and ends, maybe it IS the half way point), I always feels that January is the perfect time to take stock of how things are going in my classroom. It’s the best time to fine tune, readjust, and  and make any adjustments to ensure that the rest of the year is amazing!

Below you will find my top three must-do’s after winter break, that will help ensure the rest of your year goes smoothly!

  1. Morning Meeting
  2. Morning Work
  3. Routines

Running Morning Meetings 

I LOVE holding a Morning Meeting in my classroom every day. It really helps build up our classroom community and gives us a chance to connect. 

Returning to the classroom after Winter Break is an important time to reconnect as a class! If you have worked hard to create a classroom community you’ve got to jump right back into it, to quickly remind students that we are all here to support and encourage each other. My students love the games, sharing activities, and the chance to meaningfully connect with their classmates. It is easily the favorite time of day in my classroom!

On the flip side, maybe your classroom community wasn’t super strong before break. In that case, this is a great time to start fresh and create that community! Morning meetings are the perfect place to start.

Morning Work Activities After Winter Break

In my classroom, I consider the first few minutes of school to be some of the most important. If students come into a chaotic environment where no one knows what the expectations are…that sets the tone for the whole day! 

In other words, it is super important to me that students know exactly what to do when they arrive in the morning. It has to be something they can do independently, and ideally will also be relevant to what we are learning. 

For me, morning work is absolutely the answer! My students know exactly where to find the morning work, how to do it independently, and how long they have to finish it. This not only gives the students something meaningful to do, but it allows me time to take care of my tasks. It really makes for a calm, peaceful start to our day.  

If you are on the hunt for standards-hitting, relevant morning work for your students, check out my print and digital Morning Work bundles. They will save you so much time! I have sets for each grade level, 3rd to 6th. 

You can even try two weeks for free! Just click on your grade level below to check it out!

Morning Work Activities for After Winter Break      Morning Work Activities for After Winter Break          Morning Work Activities for After Winter BreakMorning Work Activities for After Winter Break

For Fridays mornings, I love to switch things up a bit. We may catch up on projects, do a soft-start, or use brain teasers instead of my standard morning work. My students especially love using the Brain Teasers! They’re something fun and different to look forward to for Friday.

Don’t tell the kiddos, but it also gets them to do some higher level thinking at the same time. You can check out my Brain Teasers for Transitions pack (it’s for 3rd to 6th grade) if you want something more fun for Fridays.

Routines (with adaptability) 

Lastly (but absolutely not least), you should think about the routines in your classroom. Reteach and reinforce the ones that are going well, and consider introducing new routines that will help your day go smoother.

Routines for learning are essential to a well-run classroom! As we’ve learned in the last few years, though, we also need to be flexible and adaptable. One way to do this is by having routines in place that can easily go digital or virtual if needed. 

This is especially true when it comes to the routines you created for learning. Whether you’re in the classroom or teaching online, it will really help your students to keep things as routine as possible.

With this in mind, one way that you can do that is by creating learning routines that can easily switch to virtual if the need arises. My digital reading units are perfect for this! You can use these for in-person school (and save a bunch of paper in the process!), and easily continue the same routine if you have to go virtual.

I have Digital Reading Units for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade! Each Unit covers all fiction and nonfiction reading standards and includes high-interest passages, vocabulary, and comprehension. Check them out below!

You can buy the units individually, or save money by buying a bundle. 5th grade is linked below!

Digital Reading Activities for After Winter Break

Want to try out a Digital Reading Unit for FREE? Sign up for my Free Resource Library by clicking any of the units below to grab your grade level unit! 

Digital Reading Activities for After Winter Break

What do you think? Are there any other must-do items for January that you would add to this list? 


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Hi, I’m Jenn! With 20 years of teaching in the classroom and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, my passion is to support teachers and their students by offering helpful teaching tips and quality resources. Thanks so much for joining me here!

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