Man working at desk

Despite what some may think, most full-time faculty are contractually obligated to be working during the January “break,” even though they are not teaching. While our workloads in January may look different and time allotted and spent completing obligated tasks may be different, we too hold our continued commitment to student success. Here are a few things to inspire faculty to consider during the month of January. 

Review Student Evaluation/Opinion Forms 

I find the course evaluations to be helpful, as I used them as a snapshot into a deeper understanding of the student experience. There are more course-based questions that students get to respond to like:

  1. The course was well organized.
  2. The course materials (books, handouts, recordings, etc.) were relevant and contributed to my learning.
  3. The assignments and/or exams were well aligned with the course objectives.
  4. The format (in-person, hybrid, online) of this course met my learning needs.
  5. The course covered material at a manageable pace.
  6. This course increased my interest in this field of study.
  7. I am satisfied with the overall quality of the course.
  8. Concerning the course content and activities, would you recommend this course to others?

All of these questions and variations of them help me to understand where I might need to revisit and make adjustments. I look at this feedback semester by semester and over time to see if there are any patterns or themes that may need more attention. 

Additionally, there are also some instructor-based questions that prove to be equally as helpful in my reflection and planning of what to continue doing and what to change. Some of those questions include:

  1. My instructor used class time wisely in my in-person or synchronous sessions.
  2. My instructor explained difficult content effectively.
  3. My instructor showed concern for student learning.
  4. My instructor was available when I had questions or problems according to the policies stated in the syllabus.
  5. My instructor encouraged students to participate and ask questions.
  6. My instructor was easily approachable for help with material I did not understand.
  7. My instructor provided me with helpful and timely feedback on my work.
  8. My instructor effectively guided respectful class discussions.
  9. What do you like best about the instructor’s teaching? Please give specific examples.
  10. Describe how the instructor’s teaching can be improved. Please give specific examples.
  11. Please give your instructor an overall rating.
  12. Would you recommend this instructor to others?

After reviewing all of the information learned from my student opinion forms, I let the information settle and then I pose three questions to myself as I decide what I want and need to do with the information gained from the reports. I encourage you to think about these three questions as well. As it relates to what you learned about your student’s experiences, what do you want to continue doing, start doing, and stop doing next term? 

Plan and Prep

The break provides an excellent opportunity to delve into your student opinion evaluations, reflecting on how to strategically incorporate the insights you’ve gathered. It’s an ideal moment to allocate time for thoughtful contemplation, reassessment, and refinement of your course materials, flow, and format. During your planning and preparation phase, assess the successes and shortcomings of the previous term. Identify aspects that were effective, areas that need improvement, moments of personal satisfaction, and aspects you would approach differently. Beginning with these foundational questions will guide you in determining the most productive ways to invest your time as you gear up for the upcoming term.


As you engage in preparations for the upcoming term, I urge you to engage in holistic reflection as an educator. Take a moment to contemplate your professional and personal aspirations, identifying what is essential for your continued dedication to the work. Utilize this time to refine your understanding of how you wish to present yourself as an educator and the influences that shape your identity. A key question for all educators to consider is, “As an educator, what are you recommitting to?” I invite you to complete the statement, “As an educator, I am committing to…” and delve into the meaningful commitments that will guide your path forward.


As we navigate through the January period, I highly recommend incorporating travel into your plans. Whether it’s a grand adventure or a small getaway, seize the opportunity to travel if your schedule, budget, and resources permit. The concept is straightforward: prioritize and allocate time for travel whenever possible. So, take the initiative to plan and embark on a journey, making the most of the enriching experiences it can bring.

Author Bio:

Antione D. Tomlin, PhD, PCC is a tenure-track Associate Professor and Director of Academic Literacies Tutoring Center at Anne Arundel Community College. Dr. Tomlin is also an ICF Certified Life Coach. Feel free to reach out at or on X (Twitter) @Tomlinantione.

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.