The Deciding Month

We go back to school on Monday. I know, I know, way too fast and too soon. But I know some of you have already gone back and for you I say-I’m so so sorry.
Tomorrow I plan to go to my classroom and get it ready of my kiddos on Monday. I am always anxious about January. One of the first bits of advice I received from my idol teacher when I started teaching was “January is the deciding month.” This amazing teacher had been a first grade teacher for thirty years and she knew (and still knows) all the ins and outs of children and teaching. She is the most amazing women. But she could be a whole nother post!
January is the deciding month. It is the month that more often than not we (teachers) can tell whether or not our little protégés will be headed toward the big wide world of second grade or maybe just across the hall to the other first grade.  Even before all the testing and benchmarking and standarding we (teachers) can usually tell who will be traveling on and who won’t.
Of course this is never written in stone and NOT what you learn in college or textbooks. But it is what we (teachers) know.
It’s called being in tune with your kids. Knowing what they are capable of and what they are not. It comes from watching, listening, observing and recording where they’ve been, where they are, where they’re heading.
January is when we do all the retesting, do all the revaluating to remeet with the parents that we met with in October to tell them where we see their precious child heading. This is probably hardest of conferences. And the best defense is the paper trail we’ve set up.
So in a few short days I have to have all my P’s and Q’s together so I can meet with a few parents to let them know that their angel may or may not be moving on next year. Of course it is way too soon to tell a parent most definitely will be back in first grade, but it is not too soon to give them a heads up. The last thing a parent needs is to have that news sprung on them in May.
Talking to them now gives us (and them) the opportunity to find strategies that work, work on skills they have missed, and find extra time for one on one. And hopefully stress once again how important it is for them to read with their children every night.
Do think January is the deciding month or do you wait until after all the “big” testing in April to decide the fate of your kiddos?       


  1. January for sure! It gives me anxiety too! I hate it.

  2. January seems to be the month where it all comes together or perhaps not in some cases. Our principal does not believe in retention. This is something I sometimes struggle with, because for some children I believe the best gift we can give them is time, more time in first to read and write.

  3. while January is a big deciding month, it also seems to be when you notice lots of growth. One of my mentoring teachers when I first started told me that first graders just seem to take off after Christmas. I've got a couple that really need to take off. Great thoughts!
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  4. I agree to all! I love to watch those that have it just soar, but there are those 1 or 2 like was mentioned just need more "time." Great thoughts ladies! Maybe I am getting a little excited about going back to see where most of my kiddos are heading!