Summer term is finally upon us, and after a fun-filled Easter break it’s been two weeks since you and your students last stepped into the classroom. Although that’s not a super-lengthy period, the thought of going back school can be daunting for students and teachers alike. Actually, we’re pretty sure it’s just the parents who get to chill in this scenario!
In today’s post, primary teachers-turned-consultants Kim O’Mara and Davie Thé recount their days of getting a class back on track after a holiday, and share their tips on how to glide back into the classroom like a pro.
So, it’s Monday morning. The coffee you just slammed in the staffroom has yet to take hold, meanwhile your students are buzzing around the room chatting amongst themselves, not looking to take their seats any time soon.
Kim suggests using the buzz to your advantage and kicking off the day with a physical activity. This gets the students to listen to instructions and keeps them energised. Who knows, it might even help you get energised too! After a physical warm up, kids are ready to sit in their seats and focus.
To get the brain juices flowing and students engaged, Kim recommends giving them an opportunity to share their holiday experience. Get the students to write or draw about how they spent their two weeks’ freedom.
“By getting students to share their personal accounts, it gets them to speak from experience rather than imagination. It also makes the activity more inclusive for those who aren’t as creatively inclined.”
This can become a multi-exercise activity. After students have put pen to paper, you can get them to either share it with the class, or break into small groups and have them read their partner’s page. “Aside from the educational benefits, it can give them a real sense of pride.”
Kim emphasises the importance of getting students back into a routine. After two weeks’ holiday they’ve had a lot of freedom, and boundaries need to be re-established. If you can do it in a relatable way, students are more likely to fall back into the swing of things.
Smart consultant and primary teacher Davie Thé agrees. He believes getting back into a routine straight away is the most effective way of breaking the lazy habits students may have picked up over the break.
“The holiday recap is an easy way to warm students up first thing Monday morning. If kids say they did nothing over the break, challenge them to be creative and remind them that everyone has their own unique story. It doesn’t have to be a holiday tale to be interesting.”
It’s not just the students who have been out of routine for two weeks, but you as well… and us too for that matter! If you’ve been following us on Facebook, you’ll have noticed that the Smart Teachers’ peeps have been making the most of the break themselves, trippin’ all over the UK and Europe.
“As soon as you get back into the staffroom, it’s like you haven’t been away’’ says Davie. His top tip for getting back into the swing of things as a teacher? “Coffee…lots of coffee.” (We’re genuinely not sure if he’s joking. We expect not.)
- Make students feel welcome
- Start your class with a warm-up, both mental and physical
- Get back into a routine straight away, but be mindful patience may be required
- Reinforce expectations
- Get them involved via personal accounts of their holiday
- Try moving classroom furniture; creating a new environment can spark inspiration
- Have a bit of fun… just a little
Got any tips of your own? Please feel free to share in the comments below, or post them to our Facebook wall to share with other teachers in the Smart community.
Good luck everyone, and have a great first day back!