With the holidays ending and students returning to school, college or university, they are likely to feel at least partially uninspired and unmotivated to learn in a classroom context again. That’s why it’s important to get students excited straight away, after a long holiday, as it will be much more difficult to do so later. This is true for any school break, whether that be half term, winter break and particular the summer holidays. There are many post-holiday classroom activities that will help your students feel inspired again and, with strategic planning and a plenty of creativity, you can ensure that holidays never upset your curriculum or students’ focus.
Here are a few tried and tested strategies to re-engage students to get you started:
- Creative filming prompts
Getting students writing again is vital; a creative and calm activity like this can get your overly energetic students back into the work. But don’t forget to make it relevant and creative – and have fun with it yourself, that’ll be infectious to the students!
If you are teaching a new cohort of pupils, this can also be a great way for you to learn what they are like, and the general dynamics in the group. For example, asking your students to really detail what they were most grateful for over the break, or to create a stylistic film montage of the images conjured up over their summer break. This can be a challenging enough task to both engage their minds and for you to get a general sense of what each student is like, and how they interact with each other.
- Start with a Clean Slate
If you are teaching the same cohort as before, then make sure any big projects were all wrapped up before the break. This is a new start for students and hence it should feel like a new start in class too, clean the slate and your students won’t feel as if they are just back to the same work as before. Also it takes time and effort revising material to continue a project from before – wasted time and effort.
- Ease into Learning
But let’s not get stuck into the notion that holidays are just a break from learning entirely, a time completely unrelated to school. Instead, let’s think of holidays as an opportunity for learners (and educators) to recharge their batteries and catch their breath. As such, it’s always tempting to go full on straight away. But students should return feeling refreshed, and therefore it’s essential that you ease them into the next phase of learning.
- Change things up?
As you are beginning new content, begin thinking outside of the box too. More of the same can damage motivation and decrease student enthusiasm, but clever new projects keep students on their toes and fend off fatigue and boredom. It’s obvious, but a great time to change is when the slate is clean.
Check out these creative teaching projects for some ideas on how to do this! Also, look to your own interests for inspiration. Consider projects with real-world applications that students will easily understand.
- Keep goals short-term
This is closely related to ‘ease into learning’; don’t go straight in with setting year-long (or even term-long) goals, that just makes going back to school/university daunting and decreases their excitement and motivation for learning. Instead set short-term goals to begin with, which will soon build into longer goals and a mutual understanding of expected year-long achievement.
- Have fun
As referenced before, make sure you enter your first lessons energised, excited and full of creative energy. This will inspire the same in your students. They’ll quickly scent if you dislike going back to school as much as some of them, so instead convince them to be excited about the new year by being excited yourself – lead by example!