When students (and sometimes even teachers) return from winter break it can be both exciting, and a bit anti-climatic. For many students the last two weeks have had little routine, and little academic work. Coming back to school means getting up early, following rules, and a full day of learning. Here are a few ways to get students back on track, with little stress.
1. Return to your morning routine – It may be tempting to switch things up, since it is the first week back at school. Unless there were major problems with your morning routine before the break, now is not the time to implement a change. While having to get up early to go to school may not be what certain students want to do, the reality is we are in fact back at school. Students need to understand that the same rules which were in effect in the fall, are still in place in January. In fact, January is the perfect time to review the rules your class created last fall. Going back to your morning routine will help students settle back into school mode.
2. Begin a new unit – Now is the perfect time to introduce a fun new Social Studies or Science unit.
Give students something to be excited about. January is a perfect time to get a jump on your African American history unit, or begin a study of the weather. Whatever that fun curricular unit is, now is a great time to begin it. If you don’t have a fun curricular unit planned, now is the time to plan it. My class will begin our African American history unit. I like to make it hands on and truly engaging. My students will learn about black history, and make pop up books of many famous leaders. They will also research an African American of their choice and then we will create a beautiful freedom quilt. Here is a link to my free freedom quilt activity, and my black history month lessons and pop up books bundle.
3. Reassess your students – January is also a great time to make changes to reading groups and seating arrangements. If a classroom layout was not working for you in December, January is the time to make those changes.
4. Make resolutions with your students – A new year is full of hope, and the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. As a class discuss that January is the start of a brand new year. Students may not always express it, but many times they want to adjust certain behaviors, and patterns in their lives too. A great writing activity for the first week back can revolve around simple changes students can make to improve their school life. Encourage students to think about their behaviors, and things they would like to improve.
5. Make personal resolutions regarding your teaching – January is a time of rejuvenation for teachers as well. We’ve had time off to rest, and clear our heads. I find that I’m usually open to new ideas this time of year. January is also a great time to begin thinking long term about the rest of the school year. Even though it’s January, I am beginning to think about my spring insects unit. We will all be releasing our students as little butterflies into the world soon enough. Now is the time to make sure they will have what they need to be ready.
What projects, or field trips would you like to do with your students? What is something new you’re excited to try this year with your class? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.