The Three R’s of School Resumption
Do either you and/or your students find it hard to get back into the swing of things after a two week school vacation? By this time, most elementary, middle and high schools have been back in session for about a week after winter vacation. The district where I work does things a little differently. Some schools in the district are on the traditional school calendar year, and are already back in session.
Other schools in the district are on what is called a “year-round” calendar. This provides about a month of vacation at the end of December and March, and a little more than a month at the end of July. The two schools where I work this year are both on that year-round calendar. This means that after over four weeks of vacation, classes will resume next week. That is a significant break. Additionally, it can be a real obstacle to getting back into the swing of things. If you work in a year-round school, you know the challenge of which I speak.
So, that leads us to the big question; how do you prepare yourself and your students to jump into the next part of the school year? I think the key word is prepare. In order to get off to the best start, we can’t walk back into school and pick up where we left off, especially if your vacation has been as long as mine. After a vacation of any length, we revisit expectations and procedures. If you are a member of one of those schools that has yet to resume classes, here are a some other things you may wish to consider before you head back into the classroom. (And, even if you are already back in session, it’s not too late to implement any of these suggestions!)
Allow time for yourself and your students to consider the ‘whats and whys’ of the last semester or trimester. This can inform the goal setting process and serve as a springboard for connecting new learning to previous learning. For instance, start out by brainstorming topics, activities, and events of the year thus far. Then, facilitate a deeper reflection with questions like the following.
- What is something important you learned before vacation and why do you value it?
- Is there an activity or unit you particularly liked, and why did you like it?
- What do you feel was your greatest achievement and why?
- Was there anything you find challenging, and why?
After such a joyful season, if you have not already done so, take some time to rejoice in the accomplishments of the previous semester or trimester. Create some sort of ritual to acknowledge the milestones and great work already produced. Success breeds success.
Resolutions are everywhere this time of year. Why not talk about that with your class and make a resolution as a class or allow each student to make an individual resolution? Often times we do not follow through on resolutions because we set ourselves up to fail. Talk about realistic goal-setting with your students and create ways to support one another in staying committed to the goal or resolution (see my article about creating SMART goals). Enlist the children’s help so it is a team effort.
Challenges take on the feeling of a game when it is a group challenge and something that might have just felt hard can actually feel fun! Don’t forget the power of “seeing is believing.” Try creating a “vision board” or a visual way of displaying the resolution so students can truly envision it happening and will constantly have a visual reminder. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words.
Here’s to a rejuvenating resumption of the school year!
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.