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Starting the New Year for Teachers: Mid-Year Reflection Tips

By January 11, 2023News

Welcome to 2023! A time of new beginnings, hopeful restarts and New Year’s resolutions. For many of us teachers, it comes at an odd time in the school year. We are mid-year, and hard starts may seem elusive. What this time of year does provide us with is the amazing opportunity to reflect, re-evaluate and make shifts that will create an even more positive environment for the rest of the school year. This is a powerful time for both us, and the students, to check in and adjust to make sure that we are on path with our goals. I like to ask myself both personal and classroom questions. 


A. What is a habit or action that holds me back? 

B. What is one thing that will make me a better person? 


A. What is one thing I want to continue doing? What is one thing that is serving both me and the students well? 

B. What is one thing that I want to tweak, adjust, or change? How will this bring about my goals (student engagement, student voice, language growth, etc.) 

Keeping it bite-size and realistic allows for a stronger outcome and a true, measurable shift. Making it a specific goal to the classroom helps us keep in mind what it is that we want to accomplish in partnership with our students. By revisiting and focusing on the OWL Values & Student Goals, I set guiding markers that provide tangible action steps. 

OWL Values:

  • Equity & Relationships
  • Proficiency
  • Engagement
  • Empowerment

Student Goals: 

  1. To build relationships and community
  2. To foster intrinsic motivation and student ownership
  3. To take risks and break down the filter (make mistakes!)
  4. To create an immersive environment
  5. To be fearless in an immersive environment
  6. To infer and circumlocute, negotiate meaning

One tip when writing a new goal or aspiration for yourself is to take out ‘will’ or ‘am going to’. Write the sentence in the present tense as if it is already happening. See examples below on how to make an actionable, in-the-moment item. 


Sample Personal Goals: These tend to reflect one of the Four Values

A. An action or habit that holds me back is self-doubt. I believe in myself and have confidence that, together with my students, we create the classroom that we want. I keep a note to myself on my computer/desk that reminds me every day. (Empowerment)

  • Note: ‘I believe we can create the classroom that we want. I have confidence in myself and my students.’ 


B. I take time to read and find books that reflect new areas of learning for me. 

  • I read a half hour a week on student agency. I am reading Horace’s Compromise by Theodore R. Sizer on Saturday morning. (Empowerment)
  • I read 45 minutes a week on antiracism. I am reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi on Wednesdays after school. (Equity)


Sample Classroom Goals: These tend to reflect one of the Student Goals, and can also include the Four Values

A. I continue to praise students! I see positive results and more buy-in. I know that praising students more, and encouraging them when they take risks will create an environment that is more open to risk taking, and making mistakes, which will improve their proficiency. (Goals 1 & 3, Proficiency) 

A. I continue incorporating the Organic Road Map. I see more student ownership and language use in the target language. (Goal 2, Empowerment)


B. I post-plan, using the content that came up from the day to set up the PPATH for the next day. (Goal 2 & Engagement) 

B. I incorporate circumlocution in my class. I put the phrases up on the wall and use them regularly, and in context, with students. (Goal 6)

B. I incorporate authentic literacy in class, at the proficiency level of my students (Goal 4, Engagement) 

I often think that I have to make huge, sweeping changes when the New Year starts. However, true transformation starts with just one tweak, one step. What is your one addition for the year? What do you feel will guide you towards the classroom that you want? Share out with the community what your reflections are! We can’t wait to see what one thing will make a difference for you, and your students.

You can find us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook under owlanguage or join our Facebook group ‘OWL Collaborative’ to interact with other teachers. Here’s to continuing to move together towards our goals and aspirations in 2023! 


Resource assist: 

You asked, we listened! We are beyond excited to offer Resources to help support you in your journey. Below are a list of which ones can help you meet the goals that you want. You can find all of these on our website. There are print and/or digital versions, depending on the resource. Contact [email protected] to brainstorm ideas, or see which one is best for you. We are here to support you every step of the way!

PPATH Interactive Resource: A comprehensive teacher resource with descriptions, examples and reflection sections for you! It contains ideas for pairings and groupings, prompts and question samples at the novice, intermediate and advanced levels, guides you through how to do Accountability activities, lists of ideas for transitions, authentic literacy categories by level, and ideas for hooks by category and level. Everything you need to get started or grow in your practice

OWL Planner: NEW and just for you! There is nothing else like this. We designed this specifically for the OWL teacher. It contains a section for brainstorming each section of PPATH, then provides space to plug it into the 10-15-5. There are two page of reflection questions, with space to reflect on the Student Goals, and to add to your Organic Road Map and your authentic literacy hooks or resources.

Literacy Organizer: Three separate templates at the novice, intermediate and advanced levels. Great for bringing literacy seamlessly into your circle. Highly adaptable and can be used for endless activities and prompts.

Question Starter Cards: NEW! Sample prompt and question starters by novice, intermediate and advanced levels. Index card sized so that you can use in class!

Pairings & Groupings Cards: If you are looking for new ways to group students, these are perfect to practice more vocabulary and find creative ways to having students interact. Over 90 cards for lots of possibilities and large classes.

Rubric Resource: Five student rubrics to support a student-directed, proficiency-based classroom. One teacher rubric for your own personal reflection.

Circumlocution Phrases: Over 20 phrases with 3 different color background options to mix and match. Available in Chinese, French, German, Spanish, and English.