By Teachers, For Teachers
It has finally arrived, midyear break! This is the time that you have looking forward to for months -- that much-needed time off after all of those long days of being a classroom teacher. But, you can’t sit back and relax just yet. If you want a smooth transition back from break, then there a few teaching strategies that you need to get done first. If you are not prepared for the first week back from break, then all of that relaxing that you just did will be for nothing. Your entry to your classroom will be tough and filled with craziness and chaos. Here are a few time-tested teaching strategies to help you prepare for your return from midyear break.
Make sure before you leave for break that you have all of your lessons, projects, and chapters completed. The last thing that you want to do after a short (or long) midyear break is come back to a room full of kids and have to reteach everything that you already taught them.
Prepare for something new and make sure that it is engaging and fun. Remember, students are just getting back from relaxing and having no schedule or routine to follow, so you need to be able to capture their attention and keep it. Try planning on using a new, fun piece of technology or plan to have a videoconference with another classroom from across the country. You need to find something for them to look forward to coming back to after vacation.
Children love to listen to themselves talk, especially the younger ones. As soon as they step foot into your classroom door they will filled with stories about what they did over their break. Instead of telling them that you will talk about it later, use those stories and incorporate them into your lessons. Encourage students to write about them in their journals, take a few minutes all week long to let students talk and discuss about what they did over break, or plan a day for a show-and-share where students can bring in something special to show the class. Before you leave for break, encourage students to write down what they do each day or pick up something special (like a seashell) from vacation to bring in and share when they get back.
You need to prepare yourself for the utter chaos that may ensue when your students get back from break. Not that your students are going to be bad … but they may be a little extra wild for you. If you are prepared for it, then it will make it a whole lot easier for you to manage. You have to keep in mind that these children were just home for 1-2 weeks and they did not have a regular schedule to follow like they do in school. Many of these children may not even have any rules to follow at home, so this can make for a wild ride when the students have to get used to the routine once again.
The easiest way prepare for the chaos is to have low expectations. Do not plan on the students coming back to your class just as they left it. You do not know what they did or may have went through while they were away, so give them a day or two to settle in. You do, however, need to stick with your normal behavior management plan, but you can give them a curve.
Think of each break that you get back from like the first day of school. You need to overplan and overprepare for anything and everything. Plan extra activities, plan for an unexpected fire drill or school assembly, and plan for students to be sick. This way, whatever comes your way, you will be ready for it.
Give yourself something to look forward to when you get back from break. Plan a special spa day with friends, plan on giving yourself something new for the classroom, or just plan for something that will bring a smile to your face every day. When you plan something for yourself (big or small), it gives you something to look forward to, and makes going to work each day that much more enjoyable.
Returning from midyear break doesn’t have to be a chore or a struggle. All you have to do is overplan, set your expectations low, and plan something for you to look forward to. Once you do all of that, it will be smooth sailing and you can enjoy your break.
Do you have any teaching strategies that you would like to share with us? Please share how you prepare for midyear break with your classroom in the comment section below. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.