How to make students smile the day after break

Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully you’ve been able to rest and recover over the holiday break. Hopefully you will be able to wake up the morning you have to go back to work. I’m going to struggle with that last part.

I debated on naming this post ‘How to make students smile when they would probably rather gnaw off their own limbs in exchange for one more day of break,’ but I thought it was a little lengthy. And gross.

When it comes down to it, we’re in the same boat. We don’t want to go back. If you do, please email me with your secrets. I have much to learn from you. But, if you’re like me, you will whip your phone across the room when it goes off the day after break.

So, I thought I would throw out a few ideas to help start the first day back on the right foot. My thought is that if you can get your students to smile, you’ll probably grin as well. So here goes:


Idea #1: Play a funny YouTube clip at the beginning of class

If it somehow fits into your curriculum, that’s just gravy. The goal here is to simply say, ‘Hey, nobody wants to be here right now, but I’m willing to have a little fun with you before we get back to work.” I suggest this gem:

Idea #2: Have a ‘Who had the funniest thing happen to them over break’ contest

You’re sure to laugh at this one. If you don’t have the time during class, just have everyone write their story down on a sheet of paper and read them later. You can share the best one with the class the next day, or just have a private laugh at your student’s awkward/unfortunate/probably mildly inappropriate antics.

Idea #3: Give your students all the leftover holiday treats sitting on your kitchen counter

Tell them you just made them. They’ll probably believe you.


In the end, the goal is simply just to laugh. Start 2013 on the right foot. Smile, for crying out loud!


I have a unique perspective on teaching. As a young guy, I still have that “world is my oyster” perspective on life, so I am more than willing to try new things in the pursuit of happiness. I have always been a naturally happy person and don’t shy away from trying to make others see that it’s easy to be happy! Thus, the blog you’re reading. The main impetus for actually putting all the work in to getting this blog up and running? A coworker stopped me in the hall one day and actually reprimanded me for being so smiley all the time. They actually said that I shouldn’t be so happy as a teacher! My response? Screw that! I SHOULD be happy. I now smile at that coworker EVERY time I see them…and usually say something like, “Isn’t this such great day to be a teacher?!” They don’t usually smile back… Don’t be like them.

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