Surviving Back-to-School Behavior

We know what you’re thinking… “How will my students act after a long winter break?

According to the Responsive Classroom, “more fidgety, more talkative, and more restless,” are all behaviors you will see in your classroom on the first week back to school—but don’t hit the door running too soon. Here are three strategies you can use to get your students back into the learning mindset.


1) Re-model Classroom Expectations

Your students left in December looking like picture-perfect pupils, and now they have come back as if their classroom etiquette never existed. That’s ok! You did a great job establishing your expectations last year, and there is no problem with having to re-establish them this year. You are possibly competing with Santa, and you are definitely competing with the loads of free-time students had over the break. Level with your students. Let them share their excitement and holiday stories first, and then march through your expectations again with patience and understanding.


2) Get Up and Move

Your students might be bursting with energy, and apparently, staying seated has become optional over the winter break. Even after re-establishing classroom expectations, kids need to expel their pent up energy before they can focus. It’s biology! Prioritize a morning or mid-day movement activity that will last a few minutes. Create a stay-in-place aerobics routine. Resite a classroom motto. Play a game as a group. Dance in place. Whatever you come up with to help your students release energy, it can be used as a routine focusing tool for January and the months ahead.


3) Set Goals and Rewards

Create behavioral goals that are reachable, and also set up rewards that your students will really go for. As individual students are moving in the right direction, give them words of encouragement and acknowledge their good behavior. There’s nothing wrong with positive reinforcement, knowing it helps to motivate students and keeps the classroom environment effective for learning.


Here are a few resources for positive behavioral strategies you can use in your personal or classroom library!






“Making Up for Lost Time.” Responsive Classroom, 5 Jan. 2018,
 “Re-Modeling Behavior Expectations after Winter Break.” Re-Modeling Behavior Expectations after Winter Break | Madison Metropolitan School District – Madison, Wisconsin,
“Randy Sprick’s Safe & Civil Schools – Practical Solutions, Positive Results!” Behavior Tips for Winter Term | Safe & Civil Schools,