Welcome to the void, the no man’s land between Thanksgiving Break and Holiday Break. The next three weeks are going to be fast and furious so buckle up. There are some things you can do to make life a little easier during this time.
Overplan but stay flexible – make sure you have enough to keep students busy and on track. But not busy work, regular work. You still have standards to teach. The quickest way to lose control of a classroom is for students to think their work doesn’t matter. However, these three weeks are notorious for assemblies, concerts and parties. Enjoy these with your students.
Attend special events – there will be holiday parties, concerts and plays. Make plans to attend them. I know you’re tired but your attendance will mean so much to your students. And their parents. Staff parties are a must. Not only will it show you’re a team player but it’s so much fun to see your colleagues in a different setting.
Know your students – know what holidays they celebrate and highlight it. Kids love to learn about holiday traditions and celebrations. Let the students teach each other. You’ll find you learn a lot as well.
Create classroom traditions – my favorite classroom tradition is the digital advent calendar. Woodlands Junior Advent calendar is my favorite. Woodlands Junior is a school in England that created and maintains the calendar. You can find the calendar at Class themed Christmas trees are fun too. Have students create curriculum themed ornaments – science ornaments, ornaments that story characters would have, ornaments from different time periods.
Ask for help – you have parents that want to help in your classroom, many are just waiting to be asked. If you are feeling overwhelmed, send out an email or Remind 101 text asking for help. Be specific about what you need and when you need it. Parents will come through.
Keep a list – students will bring you gifts during this time, keep a list of who brings you what. You have the awesome opportunity to model gratitude to your students by writing thank you notes. Some teachers print out generic thank you notes and sign them. I prefer to write the notes over the break and have them ready for students in January. This gives me time to breath and write a personal note. When I receive a gift cards, I like to let students know how I used the gift card. Please treasure the gifts that students bring. They are usually so excited to give it and you don’t want to crush their spirit.
Give – I love to give gifts. Almost more than I like getting them. Giving gifts during these three crazy weeks always brightens my day as well as the recipients. Even if it’s just a candy cane in a co-worker’s mailbox. Try to give your students some kind of small gift. Oriental Trading is your friend here. Organize a giving opportunity for your students as well. This does not have to involve money. They can create holiday cards for residents of a local nursing home. They can give of their time by going to a younger grade level to help a buddy there.
Breathe – this is supposed to be a happy time. Don’t over do it. Stay within your limits, both physically and monetarily. Find five minutes a day to do something for yourself. A peppermint mocha latte goes a long way to restore a positive outlook!