This week and throughout this month schools resume and students and teachers return after their summer, or winter, mid-year break.

While we most often associate vacations with fun and not learning, Matt Davis is an educational blogger for Edutopia and he explores this dual feature in a post about student engagement over a holiday period.

A common thread of conversation on the first day back in the schoolyard and in faculty room conversations is ‘the vacation question’, “What did you do in your holidays?”

Indeed, I recall many lazy teachers who would set this question as a topic for a journal entry or writing assignment in the first class on the first day back after vacations. At least I thought then that they were ‘lazy’….

At that time I was singularly unimpressed by the lack of resourceful and imaginative ideas by such educators. In retrospect I now view that assignment very differently.

The first CAS reflection after a vacation is an opportune time for CAS Coordinators to help them and their continuing CAS students to review, record, and reflect on the learning and growth in mindfulness that has occurred during the vacations and travels.

Similarly, an initial reflection on their vacations for students who are new to CAS may enlighten the CAS Coordinator regarding the range of talents, skills, and family backgrounds of his/her new CAS cohort. Such incidental but critical information is valuable for stimulating and continuing CAS conversations and reflections at later intervals.

On day 1 or the first student day, you should ask this oft-repeated question to your CAS groups but encourage a more meaningful response by posing questions that based on the 8 CAS learner outcomes, and that tease out experiential learning.

Are there other ways you might suggest to frame ‘the question’?