As I returned to the classroom on Monday, fresh from winter break, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous.
I always get nervous on the first day back after a vacation. I don't know why, but I think it has something to do my fear of forgetting how we 'do things,' which is absolutely ridiculous.
I've been teaching 4th grade long enough that once I make my lesson plans, I don't have to check them too often. I know the activities I want to complete, but I am also responsive to what my students need and will often change things up at the last minute.
But on Monday, I must have read my lesson plans over at least six times.
What is my problem? I kept asking myself.
When the students arrived, things started to fall into place. We did our "Thirty Second Share" of our break time (which we do every Monday). Then we practiced our math facts with a Five Minute Frenzy (which we do every Monday). After Art, I started to teach the first lesson in our new math unit, but quickly realized the kids needed a review of what we learned before break so I detoured away from the plan and we reviewed.
The routine returned and it felt good.
By the end of the day, life in our classroom had returned to normal (if there is such a thing). My kids settled down as the day went on.
I think the reason I felt so out of place was that I had been out of my routine for a week. But so were my students -- and it showed more in some than in others.
No daily reading, no writing, no math fact practice, maybe not even a hot meal.
More video games, staying up late, time at the babysitter's, getting along (or not) with brothers and sisters, or maybe just sitting and doing nothing.
Like me, I feel kids thrive on routine. With a routine, they know what to expect. There is a rhythm and a predictability to their day. Routines are calming.
On Friday afternoon as I reflected on our week, it felt like winter break was months ago, not days. Our daily routine had returned to our classroom, settling us all down.