The Christmas holiday is looked forward to by teachers and pupils alike. Okay, for the pupils it’s the promise of what Santa will be bringing that excites them. However, teachers will be almost as excited about the prospect of having a good rest – the first opportunity they’ve had for this since September.
But the prospect of the holidays can present challenges too, so here’s some advice for how to make the most of the festive season: before, during and after.
Coping with the run-up to Christmas
When it comes to Christmas decorations, people have different views about when they should go up. December 15th? The start of the month? Mid-November? Unfortunately (for teachers) kids generally start their ‘Christmas Countdown’ as early as the shops do. Often the giddiness that pupils exhibit around Halloween – and continues through Bonfire Night – can carry on right up until the end of the term. It will only gain momentum the closer you get to the holidays too.
Taking a ‘business as usual’ approach is wise. December can be a month of disruptions – with rehearsals for Christmas concerts and the like – but keeping things normal in the classroom for as long as possible is always the best policy.
In secondary schools, at least, the festive season is also mock exam season. Obviously, this gives you a clear reason for keeping things meaningful in lessons. In an environment driven by levels of progress and target grades, you really can’t afford to write off the month of December completely!
By all means mix things up a bit towards the end of the term. It should be business as usual, but the thing is – for the kids – it is anything but. This doesn’t mean that the whole class should be wearing Santa hats and be covered in tinsel – but you can do things a little differently with quizzes, incentives and games.
Making the most of the Christmas break
As previously mentioned, the Christmas break is a teacher’s first genuine opportunity for a meaningful rest since September. We all know that the one-week half-term break barely scratches the surface of what is needed.
For your own sanity, wellbeing and general health, all teachers must take this opportunity. Resist the temptation to leave that mountain of marking in the boot of your car until January 2nd. The best approach is to try and tackle as much of it before the holiday begins.
Just as teachers need a well-deserved break, pupils need to be given the chance to re-charge their batteries too. If the mock exams fall in January then revision will be required over the holiday. Otherwise, don’t over-burden student with masses of homework to do while they are away from the classroom. Some, yes, to keep things ticking over; but not too much.
Getting back to normal in January
The dark mornings (and nights) of January can leave everybody feeling a bit gloomy. Naturally, it’s easy to feel a bit deflated after the festivities end for another year. When it comes to the classroom, getting things back to normal as soon as possible is vital. If teacher and pupils return re-charged then it’s perfectly possible to pick things up where they were before – or to embrace a new year, new start philosophy.