Before Thanksgiving Break, I wrote plenty about the need to prepare our students for the Break. And, whether we had the chance to do that or not, I encouraged us to work strategically to ready collegians for the long Christmas Break.
But there’s another important step a friend helped me realize last night: Debriefing.
What if this week’s small groups or Large Group Meeting was dedicated to talking through the good, the bad, and the ugly of your students’ Thanksgiving Breaks? Or what if you offered the opportunity at a special lunch or online forum? If you can’t take those steps, what if you at least encouraged students to talk to you, other adults, or student leaders about what they faced at home?
Some of your students feel like a semester’s worth of spiritual growth was unraveled in just a few days, and they’re wondering what that means or how in the world they’re going to handle Christmas. Some feel a tinge of homesickness now that they’ve returned – maybe for the first time this semester. Others were reminded – deeply – of all the reasons they were so glad to leave home for college. Some feel like they missed some opportunities to impact their friends or family.
Others had really neat times at home – and their stories would be great for other students to hear. (And some made mistakes that they can help others not repeat.)
There are all sorts of reasons why a post-break Debrief makes enormous sense. Yes, if you can’t get that together this week, then I’d definitely encourage starting that tradition in January. But as my friend pointed out, debriefing Thanksgiving is one more GREAT way to prepare students for the Christmas Break that’s coming soon.