What Educators Can Do Now to Make Coming Back to School After Winter Break Easier for Twice Exceptional Learners

Transitions are never easy for gifted and twice exceptional kids. Looking forward, there are specific actions that can help bridge leaving and returning to school as the holiday season approaches. Here are some 2021 Holiday Goals to try and accomplish BEFORE leaving for break to make coming back easier.

  • Try scheduling a one-on-one 5 minute check in with the student who is not engaged – ask him to tell you about his favorite non-screen activity.

You may be wondering why I suggest this now. Why not wait until after break to start strengthening and renewing relationships. Won’t the effort be lost? The reasoning behind doing this strategy now is to “build a bridge.” Everyone is experiencing zoom fatigue and exhaustion from such a trying year. I want you to plant a seed for your student to want to come back to school. We know that engagement and motivation are at an all time low – let’s create connection now so students have something to look forward to upon their return. In fact, if over break you see something related to your child’s interest, you can always send a short email indicating you saw or heard something related to his interest and that it made you think of him.  

  • Send an email to a parent mentioning something positive their student did this week.

Again, doing so now, creates a positive vibe and sends off your student and his family to vacation feeling good.

  • Reach out to a less experienced teacher and offer support

It’s been a rough year to say the least. Even though you are undoubtedly exhausted, one of the best ways to refresh is by helping someone else. Not only will you feel good about your efforts, but you’ll buoy the spirits of a colleague – and if that isn’t in the holiday spirit, what is?

  • Do something wonderful for yourself

Splurge for that special coffee or go for a walk, watch a movie or spend a weekend in your pajamas – you deserve it.

  • Write down a gratitude about each of your students

At the very least – you can recognize how hard this time is and that they show up each day. Or, if they aren’t showing up, that they recognize they need a break. See if you can identify things they are doing – part of a process – rather than an end result. Share your gratitudes – either individually or to the whole class. Knowing that an adult recognizes their efforts is empowering for students.

  • Have your students pull names from a hat and write one gratitude about that student.

Once you role model how to recognize effort and demonstrate gratitude for it, your students will follow suit. In turn, this will help them recognize and focus on their own efforts.

  • Send your mentor an email

We all have someone who helped us get to where we are today. Wish your mentor a happy holiday. They’ll appreciate it and you never know where a rekindled connection may lead.

  • Assign NON-SCREEN homework today

It’s so important to get students OFF screens! Do your part in creating some assignment that includes non screen time. Let’s dust off that part of the brain and encourage it to work! Whether it’s a science experiment that requires observations outside, or a drawing depicting something they read about or saw in class, getting students off screens will do wonders.

  • Assign as homework doing something for someone else and reporting back to class about it. Read or google about a topic you’re passionate about.

Again, getting out of our own heads and doing something for someone else is a great way to build self confidence, to broaden perspective and to feel good. We could all use some of those feelings right now.

We are in the home stretch to finally ending this turbulent year. We need to plan and set the stage so students can return with energy and motivation for transitioning back to school (whatever that might look like). These goals can help lead you to a smoother exit and re-entry with your gifted and 2e students. Enjoy, have fun, and please comment or let me know how it goes for you and your class!

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Julie Skolnick

Julie Skolnick

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-esteem in their students and clients.

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