You’re busy enough as it is, so let’s just jump right in without an introduction today, shall we? Below are my TRIED AND TRUE tips for surviving the holiday season as a classroom teacher.
Set a date when the kids can ‘lose it’: This is my favorite tip of all time, and it WORKS! Instead of constantly telling the kids to keep it together, tell them a specific date that they will be allowed to let it all out and ‘let loose’ for the holiday season. I usually put this date as the last day before a break. It looks like this:
Me: “Alright guys, here’s the deal. The holidays are coming up, and we’re all pumped. That being said, the best way to have a grumpy teacher all season is to start acting all crazy and excited now. This is a marathon, not a sprint. So, if you can keep it together, show respect, and give me the focus that I expect, then on December 22nd you can let loose a little bit, act a little crazier, and be a little louder. But you HAVE to hold it together until December 22nd, or we’ll spend that day doing makeup work. And that’s no fun. Deal? Deal.”
…I am telling you that this works. It gives the kids something to look forward to, and you are officially the cool teacher for telling them that they will actually get to act crazy in school (somewhat, of course).
Fun Fridays: I like to start doing Fun Fridays in November and do them all the way up to Winter Break. Here’s how it works!
-Each Monday you tell students that Friday will be a Fun Friday and you have some fun things planned. This can be a game of Silent Ball, a fun Winter Escape Room, or anything else you can dream up. But DON’T tell them what it is…it needs to remain a mystery so they can’t decide ‘nah, i’m good’ Monday morning and check out for the week.
-Tell your students that the only way they can participate in Fun Friday (and this is NOT a class reward, it is every man for himself) is if they have shown respect all week long, turned in all of their assignments, and had good reports from specials.
-Come Friday, any students who got bad reports, showed disrespect, or didn’t complete their assignments get to sit away from the class and complete their work while the rest of the class gets to do the fun activity.
Homework Grams: Start each week with three “Homework Grams” – a Homework Gram is a cute little message with a Homework Pass attached to it. You can download the one I use for free HERE. Tell your students that throughout the week you will be watching for respect and focus, and each Friday you will choose three students to receive Homework Grams!
This time of year is TOUGH, but not impossible. It might take a combination of all three of these strategies to make it to Winter Break in one piece – which I have admittedly done myself. May your coffee be STRONG and your patience be PLENTIFUL!