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Making It: Tips for a Springtime Reset


Believe it or not, spring is upon us. While the month of March tends to feel like a rollercoaster with wild weather fluctuations and daylight savings time, there are still wonderful things in sight. Buds are appearing on the trees, birds are singing, and the sunlit hours are stretching out a little more each week. In the world of education, spring break has been a long time coming. Even with a chance to refresh, returning to school can be more challenging in the last quarter of the school year. To make things a little easier, the small but powerful suggestions shared below are designed to help everyone tackle the upcoming weeks with more energy and aplomb.

Physical Space

  1. Clean out crowded desk drawers. There might not be time to do a comprehensive overhaul with all the accumulated mess of the past several months, but take a few minutes to get rid of old papers, broken paper clips, and loose staples. Set a clock for anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes and use that time to do a bit of organizing. This minimal effort will feel like a much bigger deal, especially once it gets easier to find the important things that are buried deep within those drawers.
  2. Bring some life into the classroom. Even if you do not happen to possess a green thumb, putting a low-maintenance plant (like a succulent or even a cactus) into the room can really brighten up the space. With added sunlight in store, this new class mascot should be able to stay alive – especially with the help of responsible student assistants who water their new friend as needed.
  3. Change up the decor. Putting up student work is always an inexpensive and affirming way to deck out a classroom. While there may be excellent samples from the first part of the year still gracing the walls, it is probably time for a change. Have students help create displays for the work they are proud of and take about 15 minutes of class time to let everyone hang up their work. This tiny amount of effort will be hugely validating for kids. 

Intellectual Space

  1. Start brainstorming summer professional learning. There are so many books, workshops and webinars available over the summer for educators who thrive on lifelong learning. Engaging in these opportunities during the school year gets pretty challenging on limited bandwidth, but now is a great time to explore the options that are being offered. That way, anyone who wants to experience professional growth between school years can do so in the best way possible – on their own terms.
  2. Organize lesson plans. Whether lessons go awry or succeed beyond our wildest dreams, making notes about what worked (or didn’t) and why can help out in the longer run. Think about taking anywhere between 15-30 minutes to go through lesson plans and make some quick notes about next steps. Your future self will thank you next year when memories are hazy!
  3. Pick a new education podcast to follow. There are so many fantastic education podcasts to listen to, and they make for an enriching commute. As a guest on these podcasts, I can personally vouch for their topical relevance. This roundup also provides some thought-provoking options for listening.

Emotional Space 

  1. Schedule 10 minutes each day for joy. Life can get very heavy, and there are no quick fixes for that. However, lightening just a moment of each day can really be significant. For just 10 minutes, engage in something that promotes joy, and stick to it. That could be a perfectly hot shower, a crossword puzzle, a quick walk around the block, or a mindful moment with a favorite chocolate bar (Reese’s, please). Whatever works. Just stick to these “joy snacks” and see whether it helps after a few weeks.
  2. Protect some lunchtime. Some of us want to help kids at lunchtime, or perhaps our classrooms are safe spaces for students with nowhere to go during unstructured moments. All that is worthy, but adults need breaks, too. Consider taking one to two days per week to have lunch without children, either alone in a place with a door that closes or with colleagues. It is okay to take that breather!
  3. Avoid isolation. It is way too easy to be alone in teaching, which might seem strange considering the number of people who pass through our classrooms each day. However, the isolation from adults is pervasive, as is a lack of social interaction. As difficult as it might be to leave the classroom and seek out the company of others, try and reserve a few minutes each day to either collaborate or chat with a peer. 

While each of the ideas listed above is small and designed to take up a shorter period of time, the resulting impact can be notable. It might not be within the realm of possibility to try every suggestion, but selecting just a couple of actions that most fit pressing needs has the power to make a difference. We might be heading into springtime, but the school year is not quite over yet. Let’s be as ready as possible for the weeks and months ahead by getting some ducks in a row!

Written by Miriam Plotinsky, Education World Contributing Writer

Miriam Plotinsky is an instructional specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where she has taught and led for more than 20 years. She is the author of Teach More, Hover Less and Lead Like a Teacher. She is also a National Board-Certified Teacher with additional certification in administration and supervision. She can be reached at or via Twitter: @MirPloMCPS