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Teaching Strategies to Re-Engage Students After Winter Break

Janelle Cox

Many teachers feel the effects of the November slump when students are getting restless with the anticipation of winter break. While this may be a challenging time for many, don’t forget that it’s the return from winter break that needs to be addressed via teaching strategies. This is the time when students need to get prepared for state testing and midterms but are still on vacation mode. Unfortunately there is no time to waste, and students need to quickly swing back into work mode. Here are a few teaching strategies to help re-engage your students after winter break.

Teaching Strategies: Set End-of-Year Goals

Many of us use the start of the new year as an opportunity to set new goals for ourselves. Just as we like to set goals for ourselves, our students can too. Start by having students set a few (realistic) goals by refining them into something that they can achieve by the end of the school year. Have students create a visual reminder of their educational goals by writing them out on a graphic organizer where they can see the steps it will take to achieve their goal. Older students can also add a set time that they would like to achieve their goal by. Each month, have a conference to make sure that students are focused on attaining their goal. Once they reach the top of the ladder, reward them for their success. Setting goals is an important life skill, and it’s a great way to help students stay engaged as well as refocus.

Embrace Technology

There’s no denying the fact that technology is something that our students love, and instead of always having students take a break from it, we can try getting students to embrace it. It may sound crazy, but psychologist Larry Rosen says instead of resisting the urge to use technology, it is better that we have our students embrace it. Simply put, if you want your students to remain focused on the task at hand, then you must give them the opportunity to indulge in their impulse to use technology and they will get it out of their system and be able to focus.

Divert Students with a Brain Break

When students were on winter break, they were able to relax and didn’t have to follow a schedule or routine. Help students refocus by breaking up their day with a few quick brain breaks. Brain breaks allow children to refocus by diverting their mind and releasing their energy through movement. A few yoga poses, a quick dance party, or even just a few minutes of getting their heart rate up can help students to regenerate and refocus their attention.

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Give Students Time to Share

After a long winter break, your students will have a lot to share with you (especially the little ones). Instead of sequestering all of their excitement, carve out some time so that your students can share what they did over winter break with you and their classmates. Allowing students to share their stories will help rid all of their holiday enthusiasm so they can refocus on what is important, like learning. Instead of having students just share their stories, try creating a fun sharing activity. For example, elementary school students can share their winter break stories by creating a collage on a poster board or by creating a digital scrapbook. Middle and high school students can utilize technology or create a journal chronicling all they did over break.

Re-Establish Rules and Routines

Just as you had to establish your rules and routines in the beginning of the school year, now is a great time to go over them or even change them up a little bit. Use this time to reboot and check to see how much your students remember. It’s also a great time to take a student survey to see how students think things are going and what they would like to see different.

The return after winter break is not only hard on teachers, but on the students as well. If you want students to get back on track and refocus their energy on top-quality learning, then be sure to pay attention to see when students are getting off track. Remind students to stay focused and stick to the goals they have set for themselves. It may take some time, but before you know it, your classroom will be running just as smooth as how you left it before break.

Do you have any teaching strategies to re-engage students after winter break? Please share your teaching strategies in the comment section below, we would love to to hear what works for your students.


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 Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. 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.