As teachers we all understand the value of community building at the beginning of the year, and how important it is to establish connections, relationships and expectations. However, mid-year breaks can sometimes throw things off a little. Taking time to reconnect with each member of your class (and your colleagues!) can help smooth the transition back to school, reaffirm shared values and set new goals. Here’s a quick list of some ways to reconnect;
- Share a photo
Ask students to bring in (or a parent to email you/share on Seesaw) a photo from their break. It could be anything from a place they went, to a book they read, a relative they saw, a delicious meal they ate, a game they played, etc. Then, use these as conversation prompts: “Can you tell us about your photo?”.
This is a great activity because whilst it encourages sharing and builds understanding, it also takes some pressure off children who may not have travelled, maybe didn’t get gifts on the holidays, didn’t see family, etc. as they are asked to talk about their photo – not the whole break.
Okay, so I think reading is the answer to around about 70% of life’s questions… but bear with me. Choosing a read aloud to share on your first day back gives you time to connect, establishes a high priority for reading and builds shared experience to help everyone in your class feel included. Bonus points if you choose one about vacations, returning to school, or making a new start. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started;
- Play a Game
Games are great for warming up skills that may have lain dormant during the break, as well as for helping kids enjoy their day. Playing simple maths games like “Fizz Buzz”, “Slap counting”, word building or memory games can all help students begin to flex those learning muscles again. I’m not suggesting you throw out your plans for the week and only play, but a few minutes a day will help you connect with your learners.
While students are working independently, take time to conference with them. Mixing a quick check in on their progress with a couple of questions about them, their break, their family shows that you care and will help you respond to the needs of each child.
- Contact Home
Find something good to call or email home about this week. This not only builds positive relationships with home, but helps children know that you see, appreciate and are proud of them.
Have a great return to school!