Having breaks and taking that time to enjoy family and friends and even alone time is fantastic and something that should be taken advantage of by all educators. Making sure that you took time for you is a great way to come back feeling refreshed and inspired to tackle new projects after having reflected on the first part of our year. Whether you do this by vacationing, working out, obsessively checking emails, napping, spending time with family, going out with friends, or binge watching whatever you want, it is important to return feeling like you have gotten the most of what you wanted in your break.
Sometimes, getting back to work can be a challenging transition for surprising reasons. I recall coming back from summer this past July and being so hungry right at 8:30am because I’d just spent the past six weeks eating breakfast at exactly that time. Our bodies and minds both adjust to what we may consider a “regular schedule” and that is thrown off when we return to the routines of our classrooms and school. The transition from vacation to returning to work can be made easier if we do a few things to help prepare ourselves. The list below is in no way complete because each of us will find success in our own routines and strategies for adjusting back to our work schedules!
One of the worst things about coming back from break for me is usually that I did not accomplish everything that I had hoped when I left campus. I am always so ambitious thinking that I have three weeks off and I can get anything done in that time. This has yet to be my reality; instead, things come up and some projects simply get pushed. Being realistic about what can be done and prioritizing those things that I would be most stressed out about if they were not completed has really helped me be more realistic about what would be accomplished over break.
One thing that Elizabeth Aderholdt introduced me to was a to do list system called Bullet Journal. This system has helped me prioritize my projects and create task lists that guide my day, week, and month. I set realistic goals for myself and make sure that I prioritize my time so that those goals are accomplished.
Plan Out Your Prep Day – Add Time for Reflection
Not having students on the Monday we return is a great way to make sure that we are even more prepared for them mentally, emotionally, and physically. We can know exactly what we are going to teach, how we are going to teach it and have everything prepped – this is the mental and physical preparation; however, we should also be emotionally prepared for them to return. We can prepare emotionally by taking time to reflect on what our most successful moments were from the first two quarters. By reflecting on this, we can recreate those instances of greatest successful – both for ourselves and for our learners.
Know how you left your classroom so that you are more prepared to plan this out. What needs to be organized, what needs to prepared, what do you need to do to make this week and even quarter go as smooth as possible? Plan out these tasks…I have found it helpful to even think about how much time each task will take so that I can keep myself on track. This prep day can go by so quickly and having a plan for it can make it even more effective.
Be Ready to Review Routines
I have come to need that Monday prep day! I find myself having to recall that our students did not get that day to get back into the routines of our classroom. This is not saying that we should give them a day to adjust, but we do need to prepare to review the routines we spent so much time on that first quarter. They will forget things – they have not had to ask to use the bathroom for weeks, they have not had to wait with their hands raised for weeks, they have not done reading rotations or small group for what will seem like forever to them. Explaining your expectations and holding them accountable by using positive reinforcement will all be beneficial in getting them back into the routines of your academic setting.
Plan “White Space” in Your Day
I was reading various blogs about returning from breaks and I came across Miss Decarbo’s blog that suggested including “white space” in your day. This is the time that can be used to make up for those moments when our learners are simply trying to adjust back to the routines and schedule of class. In her blog post, she explains the importance of this for our students and discusses the fact that they will be “sluggish” throughout the day. While it is always important to have engaging and academic tasks planned and prepped, it is also crucial to recall that our students are getting back into this routine just like we are. You should also plan some “white space” for yourself to make sure that you are at your best and providing every opportunity possible to your students.
Make Sure You’ve Made the Most out of Your Break
For me this means that I’ve done everything on my self care list:
- Spend time outside
- Watch a few sunsets
- Do brunch with friends
- Clean and organize everything at home
- Enjoy lazy days at home
- At least attempt to ignore emails for a day/evening (a struggle for me)
- Complete the most crucial things on my task list
- Spend quality time with loved ones
Before we return, I encourage you all to think about what is on your self care list. Spend a few moments thinking about this and making sure that you have checked off everything that is most important to you. This will help us all return ready for the learners on our campus.
I hope that everyone has a successful first day back after having enjoyed their vacation and gotten the most out of it. I definitely encourage you to share with each other what you are doing to transition back into the routines of school and work!
Further Reading on this Topic:
Miss DeCarbo Blog
Forbes 5 Tips for Getting Back to Work After Vacation
5 Tips for Teachers to Take Back Holiday Breaks
The Reflective Teacher