Recharging for the New Semester

By Jeremy Rinkel on December 12, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12


As the final weeks of the semester approach, I find myself exhausted and running low on ideas. I’ve noticed that I've even been a less patient teacher the last few weeks. However, I know the value in finishing the semester strong and with energy. That, and the anticipation of relaxing and recharging over the winter holiday break, gives me fuel to make it through. Read on for five ways of using the time off to recharge for the new semester.


1. Recharge With Family Time

Family time is very important to me. Throughout the semester, I have sacrificed time with my family to prepare lessons and grade papers. The first day of break I plan to rent a family movie to watch. Since my children love online games and creating drawings on the computer, I also hope to spend time watching them be creative and teaching them a few things. It is always great to sit down and read a book together as well. On Christmas day, I plan to catch up with my brother and sisters and their families. Spending time with family helps recharge me for the new semester.

2. Recharge With a Good Book and a Few Good Blogs

Over the holiday, I usually attempt to read a book as well as catch up on blog posts I Mockingjay book coverMockingjay Bookhaven’t been able to follow since the beginning of the school year. Three books I’m considering reading over break are Mockingjay (the final book of The Hunger Games Trilogy), Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

As for professional development, I often consult various blogs for motivation and lesson ideas. In addition to the Scholastic Teacher to Teacher Blogs, there are five other blogs I look to for inspiration and teaching ideas:

  • Daniel Pink: On his blog, the author of Drive focuses on a variety of topics related to the modern workplace, in business as well as education.
  • Alan Sitomer: California's teacher of the year offers his thoughts on educational topics, shares lesson ideas, and describes his life as an author.
  • Cool Cat Teacher: Vicki Davis’s blog covers a variety of educational topics, including the "flat" classroom and global collaboration.
  • Bud the Teacher: Inspirational and reflective, Bud's blog provides a few great teaching ideas as well.
  • Inspired Teacher: This blog has advice, lessons, and inspiring stories from five regular bloggers and additional guest bloggers.

In addition to reading blogs, this year I have also used Twitter. Many professionals (including educators) share resources, ideas, and inspiration through their “tweets.” I haven’t had the time to get on Twitter every day, but attempt to take a few ideas a week from the multitude posted.

palmtree muralOcean scene mural on my bedroom wall.Recharge With Hobby Time

A couple of hobbies I really enjoy are writing and painting. Last year, I started painting. I not only paint on canvas, but I’ve also created murals on my bedroom walls. Not only is painting fun for me, but it is also a stress reliever. My favorite place to visit is the ocean, so I’ve decided to bring the ocean to me through my art.

In addition to painting, I also write in my spare time. Writing gives me an outlet for emotion and creativity. I have started my first novel and hope to finish it within the next year.

Recharge With Reflection Time

This year, it will not be hard for me to take reflection time over break: I’ve got to have sailboatbeachhut muralSailboat and beach hut mural on bedroom three days after Christmas, so I won’t be able to do much but lie around and think for a few days. During my reflection time, I am always attempting to find ways to make my classroom more exciting. I’m also looking for ways to motivate and support my students. I’m also attempting to find ways to be a better and more effective teacher. What lessons and activities went well? Which ones didn’t work? How can I structure my lessons for maximum impact? Reflecting on the past semester helps recharge me for the upcoming one.

classroomarrangement1Current classroom seating arrangementRecharge With a New Classroom Look

In previous years, I rearranged my desks at least once a month. This year I have kept my classroom arrangement the same except when I conducted a group project or group discussions. I have found that in the past when I changed my classroom look, students were more attentive. I am a person who likes change, so I’m surprised I kept the classroom arrangement the same. Why did I forget the element of change this year? For the new semester, I pledge to change the classroom arrangement at least once a month.classroomarrangement2My next classroom arrangement


What are some ways that you recharge for the new semester?


I love you suggestions for how to recharge for the new year. All of those suggestions are great ones, some that I even use myself. I do have one other one that I would suggest to anyone who is looking for a little extra boost. This break, like many, I found my self anxiety ridden and stressed out over having nothing to do. I use the term nothing to do loosely, I have PLENTY to do, just not going to school. With (a very fortunate) seventeen days off this break by day seven I was loosing it. My suggestions to those who need that extra boost and reset (as backwards as it sounds) I love to recharge with exercise. Those pumping endorphins are a life saver, especially on breaks. Some times it is simple work out like take those poor neglected dogs for a walk and sometimes I go nuts and use my gym membership that I pay for but don't use regularly and take a spin class or run on the treadmill. Just a suggestion to add to your recharge list. Thanks for all of your suggestions!

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