I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found the fall and winter months to be a bizarre mixture of stress and elation. Sure, you have the lights, and music, and celebration but you also have to deal with the dark, the cold, and the holiday burnout. If you’re a teacher, there’s an additional lump in your Thanksgiving gravy: the mad scramble to find time.
The space between Halloween and New Year’s Day is laden with holiday anticipation, interrupted school schedules, and varying degrees of exhaustion manifesting in teachers and students alike. Many educators get frustrated trying to fit in last-minute lessons before the winter break, or they chalk the whole thing up as a lost cause. With so much outside chaos swirling around your classroom it’s easy to believe these next three months will be a complete waste.
Just a Little Longer
Here’s an alternative. It may be a harried season, but you have the power to slow it down. Time is funny like that. Even though it can be measured in minutes and hours, it can also morph dramatically depending on the situation. Consider how one-minute flies by when you’re watching your favorite movie, or how it crawls when you’re running a marathon.
How much time does it take you to read 10 pages of your favorite book? It might take you 5-7 minutes normally, but what if you had your favorite television show playing in the background, or a song on Spotify, or a child asking for your help with something? The same 10 pages could take three times as long to complete.
Invest in the Moment
During the holiday season, your students are no different than someone trying to read a book in the center of a Thanksgiving Day parade. They’re preoccupied with ideas you can’t compete with. So, don’t compete. Instead, give yourself permission to skip a lesson and invest your time differently:
- Reconnect: Rather than handing out quizzes, use this time to reconnect with your students. Share your favorite holiday memories and encourage them to do the same. Learn about their families and what makes the holidays special to them.
- Play: Free play is an important part of student growth at any grade level, and a little improvised gaming will help students burn off that excess energy. Create activities centered around the holidays which will get students up and moving. If you can tie these into what the class has already been studying, so much the better!
- Discover: Different cultures celebrate the season in different ways. One fun method for integrating student learning with the holiday madness is to have them present their own cultural traditions and rituals. Have students try a new Christmas dish, or learn about Día De Los Muertos or Kwanzaa. This will not only allow your class to develop their social-emotional learning, it might enable them to discover something new about the world.
Tis the Season
The effort you spend connecting with students will pay dividends when you return. You’ll be able to tackle those skipped lessons in half the time because your students will be less distracted and more trusting. Time is your currency, you can invest it however you want, but sometimes it’s good to be a little openhanded. So this holiday season, enjoy spending some time with your students!
What about you? How do you approach the holiday season in your classroom?
Editor’s Note: Today’s image is brought to you by Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey. Get your copy on Amazon today!