Survival Mode: 5 Tips To Make It Through December
It’s that time of year again! The holidays are upon us and with them comes the holiday rush. It’s well known that student behavior gets a little crazy during this time, and if you add holiday performance responsibilities to this the holiday season can make teaching incredibly stressful.
With stress and responsibilities adding up it can be very difficult to make it to winter break with your sanity. The following are 5 tips to help you on the final holiday stretch.
Self-care comes first
It’s hard to take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself. Because of this self-care is one of the biggest factors that will ensure a successful and less stressful holiday season in your classroom.
The following tips can help you keep your self-care high during the season:
Rest: Try getting more rest during the holiday season because our sleeping patterns are one of the biggest factors keeping us healthy. If you can’t get more sleep, then try to get more consistent sleep by waking up at the same time everyday. This alone will improve your mood and lower your stress by leaps and bounds.
Eating: Food is fuel for the body. The best car in the world filled up with terrible fuel will not perform well. This is hard. I know. But it is worth it. The trick is to make small sustainable choices. Water instead of soda, greens instead of fries; little changes can give you more energy to get you through the holiday season.
Joy: Joy is the feeling happiness or meaningful elation. Doing little things that make you happy will give you the sense that you are cared for and loved giving you more to give to and care for others. It could be as simple as going for a walk in a beautiful place or having a night out with someone you care about. The little things that give you joy will recharge you for when things get hectic.
Plan activities that you enjoy
The difference between a pleasant day and a day that just drags and drags on is how much you enjoy what you are doing. By planning activities that you enjoy and that your students also enjoy, you can make things go much smoother in your classroom. Some activities that I find particularly enjoyable in my own classroom are using Instrument play-alongs, and singing games like SoLaMi (Forbidden Rhythm) to keep my students engaged when we aren’t prepping for performance. Including enjoyable activities that both you and your students enjoy will neutralize a lot of behavior problems.
Hold fast to your rituals and routines
As the calendar year winds down, it is very easy to get lax with your rituals and routines. The temptation is to let up a little bit because, “of course the students are crazy, it’s the holidays”. One way to help your students remember the rituals and routines is to give them a reminder of the expectations before they come into the classrooms. Sometimes just reminding a student of what he or she is expected to do can help neutralize bad behavior. Using student helpers as incentives and praising good behavior help put the focus on the positive and encourage students to follow the rituals and routines that you set at the beginning of the year.
Stay in the present moment
While counting down the days before your break, it can be tempting to just checkout in the classroom. Interestingly enough the more present and engaged you are in the classroom, the faster things will seem to go and the more rewarding they will feel. Hang in there! Try really connecting with your students as you deliver your content or facilitate you activities. The more present you are in the classroom the better they will respond to you and the better your last days before break will be.
Stay positive and encourage others
There is nothing better when going through a difficult situation than to know that there are people that have your back and are rooting for you. So, why not be someone else’s encouragement as the calendar year comes to an end? Just as negativity can be contagious, so can positivity, and if you are a beacon of light to those around you, you will attract more positivity to you. Try focusing on what is working in your classroom instead of what isn’t. Try encouraging your coworkers who appear to be having a rough time. By looking for what is positive you tune yourself to find it and will experience much more joy as the year comes to a close.
These are just a few tips that I am trying to make the end of the calendar year much more enjoyable. Leave a comment and share your own tips for closing out the year.