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Inside the Classroom

Getting Students Back on Track After a Break

We all look forward to the holidays, and teachers, as much as students, look forward to some time off from the hustle and bustle of a busy fall semester. But getting students back on track after a break can be difficult after we’ve all had time off and recharged our batteries.

Though I’m usually ready to get back to work after a break, the same is not always true of our students, and those first few weeks in January can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help you get students motivated after a lengthy school break!

Tips for Motivating Students

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1. Plan something fun.

Most teachers experience a similar lag at the beginning of the school year after summer break, so think back to what you did at the start of the year for inspiration. Ice breakers and other activities that we usually reserve for the beginning of a school year can be just as effective at the start of a new semester!

2. Ease into things.

I’m not saying that we take things extremely slowly, but diving right back in like you never left can actually affect your students’ attention and motivation in negative ways. Have students participate in easy activities to get back into the routine. You can even find a way to relate these activities to learning that will take place later on.

3. Be a good listener.

After students have been away from school for a while, they may want to share experiences that happened over the break. Allow them some time to reconnect with you and with their peers, but all good things come in moderation, so be sure not to let their sharing go overboard.

4. Set attainable goals.

Setting goals for our students and for ourselves is something that we usually think of as occurring at the beginning of the year, but you could revisit some of those goals and set some new short-term goals as a way to reintroduce concepts to your students.

5. Get creative.

Shake things up a bit and get creative with your teaching style. Maybe try something hands-on, or experiment with a different approach to keep things fresh in order to help combat the post-break weariness we see all too often.

6. Keep students engaged over the break.

One of the best things you can to do help students get back into their learning routines is to keep them learning during their break, Reading, visiting cultural sites (including virtually), and assigning work over the break can all help to keep students learning, which can help a lot on that first day back from break.

What About in an Online Platform?

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The Internet has a plethora of tips and activities to try in order to motivate students in a brick-and-mortar classroom, but if you are an online teacher, you may find yourself asking: What about motivating students who work online?

Never fear. A lot of these tips can be adapted to work for online students as well. For instance, consider Be a good listener: You might reach out to students after the break to ask them to share something fun that they did while they were away. Also, you can try to plan some fun activities or videos that can be watched or completed virtually to help get students back into the swing of things.

While it can be daunting to come back to a sea of unmotivated students after a break, there are plenty of ways to cure the “back-to-school blues.”

About the Author


Haylee Massaro

Haylee joined Edgenuity in 2012 and currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of Pittsburgh where she studied English Literature, and then went on to receive her M.S.Ed. from Duquesne University. Haylee has been teaching for four years in which time she has gained experience as a teacher in a brick-and-mortar classroom as well as online.