Whether your school acknowledges multiethnic holidays year-round, focuses on traditional December holidays, or avoids holidays altogether, there’s no doubt about it…there’s an inevitable buzz in the air at this time of the year. Looking for some simple ways to keep your cool and maintain a few shreds of peace leading up to your school’s break?
Check out these 5 practical strategies:
Avoid loosening up your classroom expectations: For multiple reasons, children can be wound pretty tightly at this time of year, whether they’re excited about Santa Claus or anxious about what life at home will be like during the time away from school. While we need to be understanding and give grace, becoming too laid back is bound to add to any impending chaos. So, keep those ‘non-negotiables’ classroom rules in place. For example, if your kids run to line up, have the whole class go back to their tables, saying something along the lines of “I know we’re all excited about the school assembly. We still need to line up in a calm and quiet way, just like always. Who is ready to give it another try? Let’s all watch Table Two. They’re walking calmly and quietly to get in line. Wow, they pushed their chairs in, they’re facing forward. Great job, Table Two! Now who’s next?”
Prepare your class for schedule changes: It’s possible that your school will be putting on one or two special events during the month of December that will cause a shift in the daily schedule and in classroom routines. In advance, calmly explain to your class what will be going on, and how it will affect them. Something like “Friends, today we will be stopping Writers’ Workshop early to attend a ‘Holidays Around the World’ presentation in the gym. When the presentation is over, we will come back to our room and it will be time for Literacy Stations.”
Be yourself: Do not, I repeat, do not compare yourself to others in your building or teachers on social media, especially during this time of year when stress levels are already a bit heightened! If your grade level colleague finds recreating Santa’s Workshop in her classroom to be joyful and wants to spend her entire paycheck on the bells and whistles that will make it happen, then she should totally go for it! That doesn’t mean that you have to do it, too. Be yourself, always!
Keep the day before break chill: Let’s be honest, scraping frosting from the ceiling and glitter-glue globs from the tables for hours after the kids are dismissed is not really how you want to kick-off your break. This is not the day for your elaborate ‘Fizzing-Peppermint-Stick-Glitter-Bomb-Oobleck’ science experiment. Go ahead and add a few fun, simple twists to your centers (maybe a new batch of winter themed books in the classroom library or cute snowflake-buttons rather than the usual counters in the math corner) and follow the routines that have been established in your classroom.
Prepare for the first week back: Now more than ever before, on the last day before break you want to grab your tote bag and make a run for it…and rightfully so! However, taking just a few minutes to prepare your room for that first week back is one of the best holidays gifts you can give to yourself. Change your classroom calendar, take down any seasonal décor that you might have added, straighten up your desk, and maybe even have your copies made and manipulatives ready to go. Walking back into your classroom will feel joyful, rather than overwhelming. What an amazing way to begin the new year!
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