Tips for Teachers and Classroom Resources

Get Your Holidazed Students Back Into School Mode With These Strategies

By Kara Wyman, MEd

Christmas trees are down, New Years confetti has been swept up, and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over—it’s time to go back to school. Whether you teach preschool or college, motivating your students after a long break is no doubt challenging. But we know you can do this!

For inspiration, we asked a few of our current students and alumni how they welcome students back from break. From reading a favorite book to welcome back packets, every educator has a unique way of preparing their students for the rest of the year. Take a look at their responses below.

Genius Hour. “I welcome my fourth graders back with a Growth Mindset lesson on “The Power of Yet.” Then we start our first Genius Hour where the kids pick a topic of their choice and work on completing a focused project with that topic; it’s one of my favorite things they do because they’re so excited about it and so engaged.” -Lisa

Good news. “Teaching in higher ed—primarily online—my general welcome to my students starting a new semester is an email letting them know NOT to purchase the course textbook. My class is open resource—so it saves my students around $430. The number of happy emails I get from students is amazing!” -Josh

Community circles. “The first week back I focus on building relationships through community circles. We talk about goal setting and celebrate how far we’ve come in our learning!” -Amy

First impression compliments. “After the holidays is a new quarter with new students. Among other things, I have them get into two circles facing each other and they introduce themselves, why they want to be a teacher, what cool thing they did over the holidays, and then tell the person opposite of them a first impression compliment. Then the inside circles moves to the next person.” -Brita

Book talk. “Post-winter break starts our wonderful ‘Winternship’ program where community college students are able to perform original research for possible publication. We start out by discussing what we read over the break and perform some chemistry techniques to get familiar with the work. Great times!” -John

A welcome back kit. “I bring to my students a welcome back packet. The packet includes a portable hand sanitizer, an individual pocket Kleenex packet, a roll of mints, a granola bar, a bottle of vitamin water, a journal, and a fancy pen. In the packet they will find a handwritten card with encouragement verses with their names telling them they just made it to a new semester and never give up, we are almost done.” -Teri

Insta memories. “We do an Instagram feed of our favorite snapshots from winter break. It’s a large construction paper with 4 to 6 Polaroid-looking drawings to showcase their favorite parts of winter break. The kids love it!” -Nadia

Indoor snowmen. “I welcome my preschool students back with building snowmen in the classroom, and if snow is limited, then I will make white glitter Play-Doh and have students make and play with it as we sing songs together.” – Julie

A winter classic. “We start reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins when we come back from break. So fun for the third graders to act out the shenanigans and compare them to their own adventures over Christmas break.” -Laura

Kara Wyman has a BA in literature and an MEd from the University of California-Santa Barbara. She spent a decade working with adolescents as an English teacher, the founder and director of a drama program, a curriculum designer, and a project manager for a teen-centered nonprofit organization. 

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