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Getting Your Classroom Back on Track After Winter Break

Whether you’re the kind of teacher who loves to spend school breaks planning for your classroom, or you love to spend it completely disconnecting from your school responsibilities, you can be prepared for an amazing comeback by keeping a few important things in mind.

Veteran teachers know that after Winter Break, we’re likely to see a couple of things happen: 

First, students and teachers have been out of routine for 2 weeks and WE ALL NEED A RESET! 

AND our student’s brains had the breaks they needed to synthesize so much of what they’ve learned during the first semester, and they come back a little more independent and a little more mature than when they left in December.

We can leverage both of these things to make sure we get off on the right foot, and set the rest of our year up for success! I’ve got  some tried and true resources and tips to help you work smarter, not harder, when it comes to getting on track after a school break.

Refresh and Restart

The first days and weeks back in the classroom are an opportunity for a fresh start. Even the most successful teachers and students were probably running on fumes during those last days of school in December. Look at this as an opportunity to set the tone like you did (or wanted to do) during the important first days at the start of the school year.

Review and practice all of your big routines and expectations. Integrate new ones if students are ready, and don’t be afraid to practice habits and procedures that may have gone to the wayside last semester. You might find your students are ready for things now that they weren’t earlier this year. You may also recognize that it’s time to level up or let go of old practices that don’t work for this crew. 

Grab yourself some new attention grabber posters and try some with your class!

Focus on positivity and connection because this part of the year flies by fast! I love that we get to make the most of this time to really solidify the community we have created.

You can revisit this post about setting the stage for a great year. Many of these tips are just as useful for this mini restart during this time of year. 

Motivate Learners with Brain Breaks

If it feels like you’re really putting the pedal to the metal this time of year, don’t forget the brain breaks. There is so much going on and it really helps with classroom management and mindset to enable those brain breaks every day.

Here are some of my go-tos for those minutes in between transitions, or when it feels like you’re losing your students’ attention. I’ve included some for in person and virtual learning.

Your students have built a lot of stamina up until now, but young children still can only sustain work for so long before the wheels come off. Brain breaks will help you make the most of your classroom time, and will help to make sure they are able to keep that growth mindset rolling and get big things done!

These are great times for brain breaks:

  • Morning Meeting, to help students get ready to learn
  • After Lunch/Recess, to help kids decelerate and come back to work
  • Transition Time, to help their brains shift to the next activity
  • End of the Day, to celebrate all the hard work they put in throughout the day

Build Community and Celebrate Success

Before we focus on academics, we need to make sure our classroom is a place where students feel safe and valued. Not all children will have had a fun and relaxing break. Some may have had a difficult time for any number of reasons, and we may never know what a little one is carrying when they come through our doors. But we are in control of the environment in our classrooms, and we can make sure our students are having their buckets filled so that they are ready to learn.

I like to bring my community building time into my morning meetings so we start each day off with a smile.

There are so many easy ways to build community. It can be as simple as:

  • Giving a shout out to another student
  • Sharing something they’re grateful for
  • Teachers taking time to focus on the positive and give compliments, especially to our students who could use a boost.

Whatever your approach is, remember the students will follow your lead. Whether you chose to try some new things you haven’t done before, or you want to stick to your tried and true ways of building a happy community of learners, I want to wish you a wonderful return from break!

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