Author: Dawn Mitchell
I trust that you and your families had a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving! A first week of December and with it can come all of the excitement of the coming holiday season. As important as it is to enjoy this time with your students, it is a long way until Winter Break. In order to make it there successfully, it is important to stay consistent with your expectations and routines while also being flexible and student centered. Here are some Top Tips For Surviving December from the blog, Chalk and Apples.
1.) Maintain High Behavioral Expectations – “Whatever your usual behavior plan is, stick to it! It’s easy to tell yourself that this is the holidays, and kids are going to be a little crazy, and that’s just how it is, but that attitude can totally backfire! When the teacher backs off of behavioral expectations, students know it immediately, and their behavior reflects it. Be sure students know that whatever the event, they are expected to behave appropriately. If that means you have to line up for the holiday play three times before leaving the classroom, so be it.”
2.) Stick To Your Routines – “There’s a reason we use routines in the classroom. They make students feel comfortable, creating a sense of security. They’re easy to implement, because your students already know the procedures and related rules. During December, keep using those routines that have been working well all year. Keep up the morning work, guided reading groups, and math rotations. Set the expectation that these are regular school days, and we still have lots to learn and do before Christmas.”
3.) Incorporate Some Holiday Fun But…Keep It Simple – “Just because you’re sticking to your routines doesn’t mean you have to do the same old work. During the holidays, try to find fun holiday activities that can be incorporated in to your regular routines...” See the blog post link for specific ideas here.
4.) Don’t Try To Keep Up With Mrs. Jones – “We’ve all seen them – the extravagant holiday door decorations, the elaborately themed holiday parties, the handmade student gifts. They’re all over Instagram, Pinterest, and teaching blogs. Resist the urge to try to keep up with all these teachers you don’t even know. And while we’re at it, resist the urge to keep up with Mrs. Jones down the hall, too. Learn not to compare yourself with others. You are not a bad teacher if you don’t give every student a handmade Christmas ornament with their name and a favorite hobby featured. Likewise, if that’s something that’s important to you, do it! Keep it simple. Pick and choose activities you will really enjoy. Figure out what will make your holidays brighter, and do THOSE things… not all the others.”
5.) Take Care of Yourself and Your Own Family – “With everything else going on, it’s easy to forget about yourself. Take some time out to relax this holiday season. Put schoolwork on the back burner to decorate the tree or bake cookies with your kids. Sit down and watch a holiday movie as a family – without a stack of papers to grade. Go to a holiday party. Drive around and see the Christmas lights. Relax! A teaching mentor and friend once told me to have my lesson plans and copies ready to go for the first week of January before I left school on the last day before break. I am so thankful for her advice, because it has really allowed me to relax and enjoy family time during my Christmas break. Even if it means staying a little late that last day, I know I’ll be able to relax for two weeks, not needing to think about school at all!”
If you are looking for some new ways to engage your students, check out Four Tips from the Teaching Channel to help you survive and thrive this December.
South Carolina ASCD President