First, welcome back. I hope you have all had a restful and relaxing vacation.
Are you ready to begin again? If you are reading this it means you are, which is great!
A common question, that is asked of students, on the first day back from vacation is, "What did you do over vacation?" For some teachers it is the stem for a writing assignment or a class discussion. However, this question really separates the students into the "have's" and the "have not's". There are the students who travel to far away lands, or go on a trip to Disney World or go on amazing ski trips or have a very busy social life with their peers. Then there are the students who stay at home because the parents need to work, there is no money for lavish trips, or even a dinner at McDonalds. Their social lives might be very limited or not at all.
Let me share with you a different question for the first day back from vacation. Ask, "Who is someone you spent special time with over vacation and what was one thing you did with them, or why was the time special?" With this question every student will have something to write about or discuss. It levels the playing field.
On another note, don't be surprised to discover that your students have totally forgotten class routines. So, on Monday morning, you will need to review class procedures/routines and expectations. Don't wait for an incident to happen and then reprimand the students. Be proactive and be prepared (and forewarned).
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Happy New Year!