Many teachers go on their holiday break this week and some blessed souls were released last week! If you’re still in school, we know how crazy this time of year can be and how hyper those kids are! We’ve been there! We ARE there! Plus, we ARE here for you with our 5 tasks your future self will love you for!
The last thing you want to do is work any longer or harder or any extra than you have to this week, but may we suggest something? We have five tips that your future January self will thank you for when it’s time to go back into your classroom after holiday break. I know that we don’t want to think about that right now, but we all know that holiday break flies by quicker than a kid tearing open a present. By completing these five tasks before you leave for holiday break, you’ll thank yourself later once you arrive back at school in the new year.
Task 1: Take Down All Christmas/Holiday Décor.
Take down all Christmas/holiday decor. I absolutely love that fresh and clean feeling once I take down all the holiday decorations in my home and classroom. My house and classroom looks less cluttered and it feels like we can breathe again. The bright stimulation is gone. Just like winter ushers in clean, white snow, you can usher in clean, empty spaces. Before you leave, have the kids help you take down those decorations, or if that’s too sad for them, sneakily take it down while they watch a movie. Take fifteen minutes after school and put it all away. Take some Lysol wipes and clean your surfaces. Tidy up your desk. When you arrive back in January, the simplistic look of your classroom will ease any new year burdens you face.
Task 2: Prepare for the New Year Physically.
Prepare for the new year physically. Switch your calendar to January. Put out some simple snowflake or snowmen decor. If you have extra time, go ahead and get started on a cozy winter bulletin board that can stay up well into March!
Display your winter picture books in your classroom library. Even when I taught middle school, I would put out winter poetry books and place snowflake clings on the windows. (Older kids love an ambiance too!)
Task 3: Lesson Plan for the First Week of School in January.
Lesson plan for the first week of school in January. The last thing you want to do is take home your books over break. Even though it may feel like torture and you’re exhausted, take thirty minutes everyday this week to get your first week planned for January. Make your copies. Get it all organized and put away. Lay out your books you’ll need for any new units. Anticipate your needs by getting everything ready for that very first week. Additionally, make sure your first week back is simple. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t complete any extensive and complicated lessons. Even the kids need to ease back in. Doing some more routine or less complicated activities is the best approach for you and your students.
Tip 4: Take an Inventory of All the Things
Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Take an inventory of all the things that you may overlook normally because you’re ready to get out of that school building. Put your lunch choice board back to normal. Sharpen the pencils and refill the student supply area. Get your new novels out of the closet. Print out the new spelling choice menus. Make sure you have responded to all the emails. Get your first week back newsletter ready. Enter all your grades in as well. Write your thank you notes and give them to your students before the last day of school. Check to see if you need to bring in more K-cups and creamer for your coffee station. Even though it’s cliche, don’t put off what you can do today, even if you must complete the task tiredly!
One Christmas break, I forgot to check to see if the students had plugged in their Chromebooks. Over half of the laptops were dead on our first day back. My first activity was an online one too, and you can imagine my mood already at the beginning of the day. Ugh! Take some time to do a final look at the details of your classroom and make sure you’re ready for January.
Task 5: LEAVE! And leave the books and laptop at school!
LEAVE! And leave the books and laptop at school! If you’ve done the above four tasks, you’re going to have a burden-free holiday break, knowing that you are prepared for January. Leave that school building and leave your worries behind. The worrisome parent, that situation with that student, that tension with that coworker…just leave it behind. Your body and mind need this break. Leave knowing that you’ve done all you can and go into the holiday season with anticipation of restoration.
Teachers who have finished December are like Olympic gold medalists. They have survived the chaos and the mayhem. Their mental fortitude is like the strength of an athlete and just like an Olympian must recuperate before building more muscle, a teacher must rest before the new year. Resting without worries by preparing yourself and your classroom for January is the best way to bring your best self into the new year. Once you walk back into school in January and you see your neat, tidy, clean classroom, your lesson plans complete, copies ready, and all the details of your classroom prepared, you’ll kiss your December self for all that hard work that was well worth it!