Making a Smooth Transition from Holiday Break: Top Tips for Teachers

Holiday break is an exciting and much-needed time for students and teachers alike. However, it’s also a lengthy interruption to your established classroom routine. And after all that fun and freedom, easing back into the routine is a challenge. Follow these tips, and making a smooth transition from holiday break will be easier than you think!

Before Break

In fact, making a smooth transition from holiday break begins before you leave school. You want to enjoy your break without urgent tasks hanging over your head, so a little pre-planning goes a long way.

Assign Group Projects

Reduce stress by avoiding excessive grading before, during, or after break. Assign group projects or presentations that you can quickly grade on the spot. Plus, group work is typically more engaging and can help your students stay calm and on task as break approaches.

Plan for Your First Week Back

Create your lesson plans for the first week back before leaving for break. If you’ll need any materials or handouts, prepare them and leave them neatly on your desk.

It’ll feel great to return to school without needing to rush to the (probably jammed) copy machine or frantically search for colored pencils.

Ask Students to Help You Clean

Most likely, you have a list of housekeeping tasks to accomplish before the break. Enlist your students to help you throw away trash, store items, or wipe the desks. Even if these tasks aren’t required of you, it’s helpful to return to a clean and organized classroom.

Leave It Behind

Like any teacher, you likely always have a to-do list a mile long. Before you leave for break, write it all down. Are there any quick, simple tasks you can cross off before you leave? Handle these tasks and anything time-sensitive before you depart.

Then, leave the list with the remaining items on your desk. It’ll be there when you get back, but don’t think about it again until then.

During Break

With your to-do list out of sight and out of mind, it’s time to fully enjoy your holiday break. Maximum rest and relaxation will allow you to be the best version of yourself when it’s time to head back to school.

Relax and Recharge

Holidays can be stressful, so intentionally make time to relax. Whether you enjoy cozying up with a book, going for walks, or soaking in a hot bath, prioritize activities that help you recharge.

Focus on Family

For teachers, it’s tough to “turn it off.” You’re constantly think about your students, your lessons, and the challenges you face in the classroom. Take advantage of this break to focus on your own friends and family. Enjoy the quality time and the benefits it offers for your mental and emotional health.

Remember that the more you take care of yourself, the better you’ll be able to take care of your students when break is over.

After Break

When the relaxation is done and it’s time to return to your routine, you may worry that it’ll be tough to get your students back on track. Help them ease back into learning with the following “after break” tips.

Allow Time for Sharing

Your students haven’t seen you or each other in a couple of weeks. Part of the post-holiday buzz comes from their excitement to reunite and discuss their time apart. Set aside some time at the beginning of the day or class period to share about break.

Students can journal about their holiday, then read it to the class or group. Alternatively, kids can meet with a partner, talk about their break, then switch to another partner and repeat. Or you can facilitate a class discussion.

However you decide to approach the sharing, handling it right away will reduce some of the chatter later.

Keep It Light

Students aren’t mentally or emotionally prepared for a tough assignment the second they walk in the door. Plan for reflection assignments, basic reviews, small-group work, or something engaging and hands-on. Give a little more time than usual as students transition back to learning mode.

Review Expectations

The first day back from winter break is almost like the first day of school. Review rules, procedures, and expectations. It’s helpful to have written rules and procedures posted if you don’t already. For younger students, pictures or “visual routines” are also important.

Practice Empathy

Although you should consistently enforce your existing rules and expectations, practice empathy along the way.

Especially if you teach younger students, your kids may return with some sadness or anger. Children who had a hard time separating from Mom and Dad at the beginning of the year may regress. Extend some extra patience and compassion.

Use statements like, “I know it’s hard to say goodbye to Mom and Dad after spending so much time together, but you can do this.”

Final Thoughts: Making a Smooth Transition from Holiday Break

For teachers, holiday break is one of the best times of the year, but returning to a chaotic and disorganized classroom environment can be one of the worst.

Still, making a smooth transition from holiday break is far from impossible. Implement these tips before, during, and after your holiday break, and the transition will be a piece of (fruit)cake.

holiday classroom

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