Education insights

Three ways to help K-12 students recover from the holiday break

Normally, hosting a lighthearted conversation about winter activities might have sufficed to get students back in the swing of classroom engagement.  

To help students smoothly transition back into a still fragmented and sometimes hybrid 2022 learning environment, focus on holistic needs, including the need to understand the purpose of the lessons being taught. Here are three ways help students re-engage and create excitement about the future after winter break: 

1. Paint a picture of the future 

One challenge of life during a pandemic is planning for the future. Students may be struggling to set goals or hold onto career dreams amid so much uncertainty. 

While no promises can be made as to what the future will look like, remind students that there is still value in anticipating tomorrow. Schedule time for students to engage in college and career research to build excitement for the future. 

Google created a spreadsheet-based activity that helps students research and track colleges that interest them. Give students an opportunity to research their dream schools, and ask them to share their list with the class, along with a couple of activities they would like to participate in if they got the chance to attend those schools. 

On a separate day, help them envision life even further down the road with career research. As a good place to start, the Lenovo EDU Community site features a number of inspiring stories from real professionals across a spectrum of careers ranging from the adventurous to the technological and philanthropic. 

2. Set intentions 

Traditionally, actionable goals are set at the beginning of a new year to measure and ensure success. However, students may feel more inspired by setting a new year intention, such as a single character trait, behavior, or state of mind they want to work toward throughout the year. 

Work with students to think through what matters most, and help hone in on a single word or idea that expresses their intention. Students should share their intention with the teacher, so progress can be checked throughout the year. Those who are comfortable sharing with others, should be encouraged to do so.  

These should be lower pressure than a New Year resolution and instill in students the idea that, even if they stray, they can constantly return to their internal north star. 

3. Re-socialize students 

Students may need a reminder of the rules of engagement in the classroom and during online teaching. Work through a digital citizenship refresher with students by brainstorming examples of good and bad digital citizenship. As a good reminder on the topic, read the LanSchool blog, Teaching digital citizenship is about more than just online etiquette

Make it fun by allowing students the opportunity to play Google’s online Interland game, whose goal is to teach students to “Be Internet Awesome.” 

Reminding students of their responsibilities is a great way to help refocus attention externally and engage respectfully with educators and classmates. 

Nurture the students 

What students need most right now is validation that what they are doing together in the classroom matters — to their lives, their futures, and even to the world. To re-engagement should start with understanding and validating their individual concerns, questions, and emotions. Then, increasingly busy K-12 educators can focus on what they do best: meeting each young person where they are and awakening their hearts and imaginations. 

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