Students get back to workAfter a winter break filled with presents, family, time off and plenty of mornings to sleep in, coming back to class and homework isn’t always easy for Red Wing School District students.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
After a winter break filled with presents, family, time off and plenty of mornings to sleep in, coming back to class and homework isn’t always easy for Red Wing School District students.
“I didn’t really want to go to school,” Burnside Elementary School second-grader Jazmyne Selisky said of her first day back Wednesday.
Teachers, too, said that getting students to transition from their winter break mindset back to reading, writing and math work can be difficult.
“The first day back is the toughest,” Burnside Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Mike Pagel said. “Everybody is tired. Everybody’s been sleeping in. That first day back, the kids tend to have some difficulty.”
Jennifer Tepley-Mahn, a second-grade teacher at Burnside, said she takes plenty of time right after break to make sure her students are back on track.
“I think that the biggest challenge is to get them back into the school routine,” she said. “They’ve been off for 10 days. They have their own routines at home.”
To help her students get back into the swing of things, Mahn said she makes sure to stick to her normal classroom routine. That includes the daily morning meeting, which gives her students a chance to catch up with their classmates.
“It’s a great time for all of us to sit together, and then we share news,” she said.
Routine plays a huge role in Pagel’s classroom as well. Because many of the school days leading up to break are filled with activities, schedules tend to get shuffled. On the first days back after break, Pagel said he also makes sure his class sticks to its normal schedule.
“I try to not mess things up too much. I think kids really miss that routine,” Pagel said. “It helps things move much more fluidly when they come back in.”
To help deal with behavior issues, both Mahn and Pagel said that they spent time this past week reviewing classroom expectations. Burnside teachers have been using Responsive Classroom techniques — which focus on improving behavior by modeling everything from how to line up for lunch to how to ask a question in class — for the last few years.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were spent going over a lot of those behavior rules with students, the teachers said.
“Some of them really, really need that reinforcement,” she said.
“It’s lots of modeling, lots of reminding,” Pagel added.
Tori Balster, who is in Mahn’s second-grade class, said she was finding it hard to focus on school work after spending winter break with her family at a water park.
“I just try to do my best and try to listen,” she said.
Balster added that Mahn has been helping her get back into school mode.
“She helps me concentrate,” Balster said. “She helps me pay attention.”
As far as academics go, Mahn said she also spent a few days going through what the class learned just before break and keeping track of how well each student learned those lessons.
“It’s a lot of review and modeling over and over again just so everyone is on the same page,” Mahn said.
Getting back to work was somewhat easier for Sunnyside Elementary School teacher Pam Dressen and her kindergarten students. In her classroom, students generally just picked up where they left off, she said.
“The excitement of Christmas is over, and they had a week at home to play and rest. They’re kind of ready to come back to a routine,” she said.
Dressen has been teaching in Red Wing for 26 years. Each January, she said she generally sees her students eager to get back to class.
“The boys and girls are ready to come back for the most part and ready to learn,” she said.