Monday, January 4, 2016

Helping Students Transition Back from Winter Break

You haven't had school in over 2 weeks so you've probably enjoyed binge watching tv, staying in your pajamas all day, and eating whatever/whenever you want (please tell me that's not just me). Getting back in the swing of school is going to be hard for you and your students, but here are a few tips to help make that transition a bit easier. 

1. Review the Rules/Expectations
Just like the 1st day of school, going over the rules after break is essential! Now is a good time to review all of the classroom rules and decide if you need any more in place. One year, I let my class come up with the rules. I know you probably think that's crazy! Well, check out this huge list they came up with. I even had to cut them off! By allowing them to create the rules, they take ownership of them. However you do your rules (student led, classroom, school wide, etc), make sure to go over them and make sure students remember the consequences of breaking the rules. 
 I personally think #10 is the BEST!!
 2. Review Procedures
Along the lines of reviewing the rules, discussing the classroom procedures is also vital. Discussing arrival/dismissal procedures, classroom jobs, bathroom/drink privileges, lunch procedures, fire/tornado drills, center time, etc. are all important things to go over. We can't assume that students will remember EVERYTHING from before break. All the hot chocolate and candy canes fog up their head for a bit. :)
3. Give Students a Break
You know how exhausted you are the first week after a break and you just can't wait for lunch, recess, and your prep so you can just sit and catch your breath, well your students are like that too. So ease them back into the long daily routine. Throw in some brain breaks like these quick cards you can put on a ring for quick access.
These Fluency & Fitness Slideshows are fun because they review skills and get in movement. 
4. Take Time to Review Old Skills
We cannot expect our students to just get back in the swing of things and start learning a new topic. Your first week back is a great time to do a quick review on the main skills you've taught already this school year. Students are going to need time to practice the skills and strategies they haven't used for the past few weeks. Winter break isn't as bad as when students come back from Summer vacation, but a refresher course is a good way to transition back into the first week. It will also save some of your sanity of planning over break, because you can just pull out old lessons and activities for this review week. 
5. Let Students Share About Their Break
Students have so much they want to share about with you and their friends when they get back to school. It's been about 2 weeks without their friends, so you know they're going to want to talk. When they arrive in the morning you can use these FREE Winter writing prompts to have students write about their break. Then you can gather around in a circle and let each student have a few minutes to share about their break. 
Hopefully your first week back after break will go smooth. It's always fun to see your students again, but don't be surprised if you get this look a few times. :)


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