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Going back to school after a long break is never easy. Not for students, not for teachers! We all miss our easy mornings with no alarm clocks, deadlines, papers to grade, and lessons to plan. But what can make going back to school even harder after a long break is knowing that our students have probably forgotten a lot of our routines and procedures. It’s almost like the first day of school all over again. But going back to school after a long break doesn’t have to be that difficult. In this post, I am sharing with you five classroom management ideas for after a break that will help you and your students have a smooth transition.
Five classroom management ideas for after a break
Review classroom rules during your morning meeting
The first thing I like to do when we return to the classroom after a long break is reviewing our classroom rules. Let’s face it! For the past few days or weeks, my students haven’t even thought about raising their hands to speak or using a whisper voice to speak. It’s my job as the teacher to remind them of those rules.
Personally, I like to use my morning meeting time to review our classroom rules. At the beginning of each year, I make a “Classroom Constitution” with my students. These are the rules we all agree should be a part of our classroom. When we come back from a long break, I like to pull those rules out and review them. Oftentimes, we even add some new rules.
I like to go over multiple examples of what it looks like when we follow and don’t follow these rules. A fun way to do that is to ask a student to help you out. Let’s say that you are reviewing the rule “Eyes on the speaker at all times.” You can ask a student to come up front and show us what that DOES NOT look like. They can be as silly as they want. Everyone will have a good laugh. But then, you ask them to show the class what that DOES look like. Choose ONE rule to highlight every single day and talk about the consequences of breaking these rules. For example, if you are not looking at the speaker, you will be asked to sit somewhere else (closer to the teacher). If you run in the classroom, you will have to go back and walk. Remember that the punishment should fit the crime! Taking away a week of recess because a student was talking when you were talking might be a bit much. Yikes!
Practice routines and procedures
The next classroom management idea for after a break that I want to share with you is practicing routines and procedures. Routines and procedures are different from rules. Rules are meant to foster safety, respect, and responsibility. Breaking rules has consequences.
Routines and procedures are the things that keep our classroom running like a well-oiled machine. I spend a lot of time during the first few weeks of school teaching and tweaking our routines and procedures. But I’m not gonna lie! Every once in a while, we all need a little refresher. And those first few days after a break are a great time to do that!
I like to review routines and procedures with games as much as possible. For example, one of the first games I like to play with my students when we come back from a long break is “Would you rather…” While we play, we practice walking around the classroom, taking turns to speak, following directions, responding to attention-getters, using our inside voices… Honestly, the sky is the limit! The best part is that my students are never bored. Less boredom = better behavior!
If you want to read more about how I use “Would you rather…” games in my dual language classroom, including the different ways to play, I wrote an entire blog post about it. I will link that blog post here for you.
I have a confession to make! For a long time, I didn’t really believe in the importance of setting goals. I thought it was just a bunch of baloney. But after I became a TPT seller and started setting goals for my own business, I realized just how powerful they can actually be.
Setting goals gives me clarity! It helps me identify what I want and come up with a plan to get there. I am now convinced that we should be doing the same thing with our students. I love giving my students an opportunity to set goals for themselves. It’s a great way to show that they are in control of their own lives, and what they choose to do today will impact where they are tomorrow. This, in turn, helps with classroom management because my students are focused on something they want to achieve.
Whenever we work on setting goals, we talk about:
- coming up with goals that are achievable
- coming up with goals that are measurable
- identifying how much time will be needed to accomplish those goals
- identifying the steps that must be taken to accomplish those goals
- writing them down, so they can be revisited later
I have actually made a goal-setting flipbook in Spanish that I use with my students at the beginning of the year. You can click the link if you would like to check it out.
This year, I am looking forward to using the book “The Girl and the Bicycle” before we begin our goal-setting activity. This is a beautiful wordless picture book about a girl who is looking for ways to earn enough money to buy a bike. I love that this book is wordless because we can have a discussion in Spanish about what is happening in the story.
Add a fun challenge
My fourth classroom management idea for after a break is to start a classroom challenge. I usually already know the things I want my students to work on when we come back from a long break. Some things change every year depending on the group while others are pretty universal. For example, transition, walking quietly in line, and keeping their eyes on the speaker are some of the things I want to focus on with my students this year. So to make it a little more exciting, we are gonna have a classroom challenge.
My favorite classroom challenge is Mystery Reward. I didn’t come up with it myself (you have probably seen it around already!) But I did add a twist to it!
For this challenge, you will need anchor chart paper, some sticky notes, and markers. I also use an invisible ink pen (that’s the twist!) Here is how it works:
- First, I choose 4-5 classroom routines and/or procedures we need to work on;
- I write them on 20 sticky notes (one per sticky note). For example, 4 sticky notes may say “walking quietly in the hallway;” another 4 may say “60-second transitions.” And so forth.
- On anchor chart paper, I write the classroom reward with the invisible ink pen;
- I place the sticky notes on the anchor chart paper;
- Every time my class completes one of the challenges, I remove one of the sticky notes;
- When all sticky notes have been removed, I reveal the mystery reward using a UV flashlight.
Give this one a try! Seriously! Your students will love you for it!
Change things up!
The last of my classroom management ideas for after a break is to think about the things that were happening in your classroom before you went on a break. Were there routines and procedures that were not working for you? If so, now is the perfect time to change them!
For example, this school year I decided to try something different for morning work, but I am honestly not happy with it. So when we go back to school after the break, I am changing it up. Instead of having my students work on their math spiral review, I will have them write a daily journal prompt. I have used this activity for morning work for years, and it is the absolute best! I can’t wait to change things up. This will make it easy for my students to come through the door, unpack, and begin working on their writing immediately. If you want to see the set of 150 writing prompts that I have used for years with my students, you can click here. They are available in English and Spanish.
Even better, if you want to try out some writing prompts FOR FREE, you can click here. You will receive 36 writing prompts in Spanish in both printable and digital formats. I am sure you’re gonna love them!
Activities for the new year
If you are going back into the classroom after winter break and need some done-for-you activities that will save you time and sanity, check these out! This bundle includes four activities in Spanish for the new year that will help you get back into the swing of things.
There you have it!
These five classroom management ideas for after a break will help you and your students transition back into the classroom without skipping a beat. Which of these will you be trying in your own classroom this year?