Saturday, January 4, 2014

Returning (Thoughtfully and Carefully) to School

I sincerely hope that anyone reading this had a wonderful and relaxing break over the Christmas season filled with special moments with family and friends. I’ve come to realize that is not likely the reality for many of our kids and I know, that as we return to school, it will be very important to keep a broader view as we ponder the first minutes, hours, days, and weeks of the January return.

Sometimes, it’s an innocent comment meant to explore with students what happened while they were away. For those who did not experience warm and tender moments, who may not have had the moments of receiving gifts, or who may have had limited familial connections, this may re-open some hurt that was pushed aside with each passing day after Christmas. I’m not suggesting that no attention be given to kids who come from stable, blessed environments. I believe that the quality of the relationship established by this time will let the teacher get feedback and hear the excitement that some are returning with.

More importantly, as you start back with your students, it’s important to review all of the expectations from the start of the school year that you have successfully built in to your classes and schools. Remember, students have been operating for two weeks in environments with a wide degree of allowable behaviors and some of those will need to be moderated so the positive learning environment can be quickly re-established. Don’t expect that all of the great things you did in the first four or five months will automatically and instantly return to your students when they enter today. Take the time to reemphasize relationships with and between students. Recall some of the best moments of the opening months as reminders of what is needed going forward. Be with your kids during the non-structured times of recess and lunch during the first few days as you may notice some things that can be rectified before they grow. If there are specific expectations for specific locations or routines, review those in context with your students – if you can predict it, you can prevent it. 

Mostly though, let your kids know how much you missed them – all of them – and how the break also gave you a chance to relax and re-charge your batteries. This next stretch of the school year is often a challenging time. Knowing this, and taking the proactive steps to change the potential outcomes, will serve both you and your students very well. Welcome back!

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