Whether you’ve already started the new semester or are gearing up after a holiday break, we understand that things might not have gone as planned in the first semester in your secondary classroom. Let’s dive into some last-minute strategies to reset your secondary classroom and make the second semester a success.

Reflect on the Previous Semester

Start by reflecting on the previous semester. Consider what worked well, what didn’t, and the feelings associated with those experiences. It’s crucial to identify areas that need improvement before moving forward.

Making Assumptions

One common pitfall is assuming that secondary students already know how to behave. Challenge this assumption and recognize the need for a review. Elementary teachers often prioritize revisiting basics, and secondary educators can benefit from adopting a similar approach.

Implementing the Secondary Classroom Reset

Choose Your Focus

Think about one thing that, if improved, would make the most significant difference for both you and your students. Whether it’s classroom organization, student behavior, or effective group management, focus on that one aspect.

Small Shifts

Implement small shifts based on your chosen focus. For example, if clutter affects your productivity, ensure all horizontal surfaces are clean. These adjustments can have a cascading effect, positively impacting both you and your students.

Address Routines and Procedures

Revisit and reinforce the routines and procedures established at the beginning of the school year. Ensure clarity on entering and leaving the classroom, moving during class, submitting assignments, and other critical aspects.

Using the Classrooms, Procedures, and Routines Planner

If you need guidance, consider using the Classrooms, Procedures, and Routines Planner. It provides explicit instructions on setting up routines for various scenarios in secondary classrooms.

Communicate Changes

If making adjustments not mentioned in your syllabus, communicate these changes to parents and students. Emphasize that these tweaks aim to enhance the learning experience for everyone.

Set Realistic Goals and Expectations for Your Secondary Classroom

As you embark on the second semester, set realistic goals and expectations. Reflect on policies and rules that may have caused more work than anticipated. This is your chance to make adjustments and ensure a smoother experience for both you and your students.


Starting a new semester after a break is an excellent time to refresh and make necessary adjustments. Remember to reflect, choose a focus for improvement, revisit routines and procedures, and set realistic goals. You are the expert in your classroom, and with these strategies, you’ll navigate the second semester successfully. Best of luck!

Welcome to 2024. Now, you’ve either started school this week, or you will start next week after a holiday break. Today, we’re going to be focusing on how do you reset when Things may not have gone as planned for semester, and quite honestly, your classroom may have been chaotic right before the break.

One of the biggest issues that I had when I was teaching secondary students was making the assumption that they already knew things. Like they knew how to behave. When now that I’ve worked with a lot more elementary teachers, I’m learning more about the idea of just making assumptions to not make assumptions and knowing that they all need review.

What I want you to do first when we’re thinking about resetting for this next school year is think about last semester and how you’re reflecting on things. Think about the feelings that you had, what worked, what didn’t work, and then we’re going to be talking more about what you feel didn’t work for last semester so that you can figure out how to make those changes.

Now, if you’re starting school this week, it’s okay. You can do this reset whenever you want. It could be a Monday. It could be any time. If you’ve read the book by Daniel Pink, that’s when he talks about how in reality you can have a new beginning whenever you feel like it. And it is totally okay. There are things that you might make that are adjustments that are not in your syllabus.

Totally okay. This is when you would just notify the parents, the students say, Hey, I’m just doing a simple tweak to help serve my students better this year, this semester. Also, if you are starting a new semester, then with a new class, then you’re going to be following the same steps.

We’re going to be viewing this second semester going into this time after the break. If your semester doesn’t start right when you come back, think of it as a reset, a restart. It is on a lot of people’s brains. This is just a normal time of the year when things get restarted.

We’re going to envision our very first day of school. We are going to go back to the first week of school and you are going to treat this time like it is the first week of school. Based on your reflections, I want you to think about maybe some systems or routines. What wasn’t working.

And then you’re going to take it further. You can list out all of the things that weren’t working. It could be that your students were off task a lot. It could be that your room is a mess. It could be that students had a hard time turning things in. You’re just going to list out A bunch of different things.

And more likely than not, those things all had an impact on you and also your students. Once you get that big list, or it could be a short list, what you’re going to do is you’re going to look for the one thing. If you were to improve on one thing, or your students to improve on one thing, what would make the biggest difference.

For me personally, I had a really hard time working in a cluttered room, but I’m also not a naturally organized person. But I’ve learned that if I can have the clutter clear, then I have no excuse to get things done. I can be a lot more productive if there is no clutter. Implementing Small shifts, like making sure all the horizontal surfaces were clean, really helped me get more productive.

And then because I was more productive, it also helped my students. That was my one thing. It could be that you want to focus on student behavior, or it could be that Because the students are acting out a lot, you’re finding out they’re really the one thing is, is because they’re by their friends and they’re not having productive conversations.

Maybe your one thing is figuring out ways of sticking to a seating chart, or it could be that you are assigning groups. And so you’re managing. their time with their peers more effectively. You’re not going to worry about anything else. You want to focus on that one thing and you’re going to write it down on a sticky note or something, somewhere where you can see it, so that you know that is what you’re going to be focusing on improving for this second semester.

With that, you might be wanting to make some tweaks to that routine and procedure. But the other thing is you want to readdress all the routines and procedures that you may have set up from the beginning of the year. Now if you are unsure of what those could be, I do have a Teachers Pay Teachers product called the Classrooms, Procedures, and Routines Planner, where I Explicitly, it will tell you several places to think about where you might want some routines.

Here are different routines and procedures that you may want in your secondary classroom. Entering the classroom, moving about during class, class dismissal, use of a hall pass. Tardy, absent work, turning in assignments, getting help during independent or cooperative work time, when there’s a substitute or guest teacher, using any sort of devices, if you have a lab day, and then using new tools and equipment.

These were all different routines and procedures that you could implement within your secondary classroom. You don’t have to have all of these, but they’re just a suggestion of where to get started. Now, if things are working, you still will want to readdress those with your students. Within this planner, you really want to think about what does this look like for you as a teacher? And what does this look like for your students? What should be happening during these routines?

These are not rules. These are the processes to make sure that the rules happen more smoothly. And it’s that that needs to be explicitly taught or retaught or reintroduced. Whatever you think practice needs to be happening with your students.

This is what this routine looks like for me as a teacher, and this is what you should be doing as a student. I think when we forget those two components and we forget to explicitly review them, that’s when things slip through the cracks. Remember, as a secondary student, they have a bunch of other teachers.

And more likely than not, they do not have the same routines and procedures. They need to be reminded of what yours are, but then they also just need to be reminded about how different they might be from the teacher next door. Kind of go into it with a little bit of grace. Yes, they are older. You can make some assumptions that they do know things, but it really does help.

Also, remember, that for this break, they probably had very little structure and now they’re coming back to a very structured situation, which they craved, but it’s going to take some adjustments to get there. Whatever you can do, remember you’re mimicking that first week of school, whatever you can do to help them get back on track with those routines and procedures is really going to set you up for success.

On a final note, I want you to also think about setting some realistic goals and expectations for second semester. You’ve made it through the first semester. Maybe you had some routines and procedures or some rules that you want to improve upon. You thought were going to be really important. These could also be policies, but they ended up not being as important in the end or Maybe there were some policies that you implemented that caused way more work for you Not just your students, but you this is a great time.

Remember you’re restarting you’re refreshing it is a normal time of the year just the calendar year to make these adjustments and I I’ve noticed that whenever I’ve done these changes, whenever I’ve made a certain tweaks more likely than not, the students are welcoming of them because they want to learn in your class.

They want things to be enjoyable. And what tends to happen is that we get caught off guard by what we like to call when I was an assistant principal with the dirty dozen. There are a handful of kids in the entire school, no matter how big the school is, there are just a handful that cause the most issues.

And when you look at your classroom, in reality, the majority of your students, I would say 99 percent of your students are wanting to learn. They are annoyed when so and so is talking to their friend and they’re getting you off task. That annoys them. They want to help. If you can even get some feedback from students, maybe it’s that students write things privately on their own. It could be anonymous. You could have them give you some feedback. That could be something you do coming back on those first days of school.

Maybe some of their expectations that they have from the class that can help you make some adjustments that way. Let’s review some of the things that you need to remember as this new semester starts. This reset happens for the new semester after the holiday break.

First off, Reflect on what worked and what didn’t work from last semester and then choose the one thing, remember one thing, that will make the largest impact on your success and your student success for this next semester. Second thing is that you need to review what you would like students to do. Your expectations, your routines, your procedures, review it just like it’s the first. week of school. And then finally, set some realistic expectations for next semester.

Make some adjustments of policies, rules, routines that may not have worked last semester and may have caused you more work. I wish you all the luck. And my thoughts and prayers go out to you as you start this second semester. You can do this. You are amazing. You are the expert at what you do, and you are making an impact in your students lives.

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