Could also be called ‘The Teaching Gap’, no? More ideas to get you through:
Integrate high-interest projects and group work into your regular routines.
I like to finish the majority of my direct instruction early in the month so that the week before break, students can spend most of their time applying skills. Next week, my class will be publishing their narrative essays in writing, completing main idea partner activities in reading, creating multiplication fact houses in math, and making land form changes pop-up books in science. These activities are interesting enough to keep the kids focused on their work, and don’t require them to be sitting still and following along with me. We will, however, continue with regular routines for morning work, reading groups, math and writing warm-up assignments, and so on, to send the message that this is a regular school day with regular expectations. The kids won’t notice a change in the way the day is run; only I will be aware of the subtle differences in the way content is presented and activities assigned.
Don’t feel pressure to do all of the elaborate holiday stuff that other teachers do.
So what if the teacher across the hall covers her room in tinsel and lights and creates extensive holiday-themed centers which culminate in a life-size replica of the first North Pole expedition? That teacher either: a) sacrifices her own mental sanity in order to live up to the unrealistic expectations she’s placed on herself, or b) has a higher tolerance for stress and more free time on her hands. Either way, she’s not you. Don’t compare yourself, and don’t wear yourself out trying to keep up. (That goes double for buying presents for the kids. Your teammate may choose to spend $50 on trinkets. But you’re not a bad teacher if you don’t.)
Keep the last day before break low-key.
Three hours before you pack up your whole family and make an eight hour trip to grandma’s house is NOT the time to plan an elaborate fraction-review-gingerbread-house-decorating activity with your students. You’ll be distracted by your own holiday plans, the kids who actually show up won’t be able to follow directions, and you’ll be running around like crazy to clean up so you can leave on time. Instead, give meaningful work assignments that the kids will enjoy completing, and enjoy the last day together. This will also help you…
Get prepared for January before you leave.
Use the day before break to take down any seasonal decorations you have up, change the calendar, finalize your lesson plans, etc. There’s nothing worse than coming back to work after two weeks off to discover silver glitter and unwritten thank you cards all over your desk. It’s a new year. Give yourself a new start.
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