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As a full-time teacher, I know how difficult it can be to make the shift between break and going back to school, especially after a long winter break.

I get it. When I was single and teaching, I can well remember not wanting to leave “jammies on the couch” mode to switch back to “getting up and out the door” mode. Even now, as a mom of six kids, it is hard for me to leave the time we‘ve been enjoying at home together to go back to school.

Let's make that transition easier! These three approaches will help you and your students get back into the day-to-day school routine.

1. Welcome Your Students Back to Class

As much as I love my time at home and with my family, there are also -- at least for me -- students that I miss. Every teacher has that student that you make a special connection with or that’s just a really enjoyable person to have in class. Our students miss us, too! That is why I like to start our first day back by telling them that I missed them over the break.

Allow your students to participate as well:

  • What happened? Allow them to share something good that happened to them over break.
  • Inappropriate behavior? It isn't uncommon for kids to struggle with behavior following a long break. I try to combat that by giving them a blank piece of paper as our bell-ringer. Instead of a math problem, however, I ask them to write something they will remember about that specific break.
  • Greet each student at the door with a simple question or special greeting. Remind each student that they are special and worth your time!

Also keep in mind that breaks from school aren’t an amazing, family-filled, warm-and-cozy time for all students. Breaks can be tough for some kids. We need to be sensitive to that and be ready to reach out and try to create touch points with them.

2. Be the Teacher You Want to Be

We’ve all seen the memes showing a teacher who is so tired at the day’s end that she is face down on the stairs. I can laugh at those because I have definitely experienced my fair share of “teacher-tired” days.

But that’s not how I want to be known. I don’t want to be seen as dreading my job, I enjoy teaching! I want to be thought of as kind, disciplined, thorough, and caring.

I challenge you to come up with the three (3) words that describe you as a teacher.

  • Think through the lens of your students - if they had to describe you as a teacher, what do you hope they would say?
  • What connects you with your students?
  • What would parents say about you as a teacher?

Once you have come up with your words, choose one and take it with you as you start the first day back. Write it on a sticky note and put it where you will see it. Then commit to being that person on your first day back and beyond.

3. Connect with Your Students

Remember that not every student will have experienced kindness or patience over the break, so knowing their teacher will be kind to them can make such a difference in their life. Everyone feels a little out of sorts on the first few days back after a long break. You can be the one to make your students feel more comfortable and get back into the swing of things more quickly and with less stress.

I like to have an easier lesson on that first day so that each student feels successful and built up as we begin again. I try to be as positive as possible as we work through the day’s work.

I know that it may feel repetitive to go over things you have covered already, but if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I am a firm believer in using a student’s past success to help them move forward. This is the perfect time to do just that.

I want to see you get off to a great start as you get back to a new year with your students, so I hope these tips will help you as you head back.