There is no time in the school year for a teacher quite like the last couple of weeks of December. The students are excited for not only Christmas and New Year, but the break from school that comes along with it. And no matter what the teachers say, they are thrilled as well. It is a reprieve from work, waking up early every morning, and tossing and turning all night.
In addition, everyone seems to be friendlier during this time of year. The other teachers that you clash with actually smile at you in the hallway and the students that you swear put a curse on you at the beginning of September are now no longer giving you the evil eye. Of course, it will all change back to normal by the end of January, but it is time to cherish these moments and perhaps think towards the future.
Homework Before Christmas
There are those teachers out there, and you know who you are, that pretend that the holidays really do not matter. They keep going full speed ahead with handing out homework even a night or two before winter break begins. ‘This is the time to get into the season!
Explain to your students that you realize it is a busy time of the year for them, too, since they obviously need to figure out gifts for the loved ones in their lives. With a smile, tell them that you are giving them the gift of no homework the whole week before break as long as everyone works hard in class and gets their assignments completed.
Letting the students know you are human is not a bad thing. Perhaps you should take it even further in the year and relate to them stories from your own childhood when trying to connect with the students and their lives.
Holiday Film in Classroom
Teachers are always searching for things to fill the last couple of hours in the classroom with their students before winter break begins and they exit the school with smiles plastered on their faces. It has become quite common to view some sort of holiday film with your students right before break begins. This includes furnishing popcorn and even soda.
In fact, if you looked down the hallway an hour before school was to let out on this day, most classroom lights would be off for proper movie viewing. Still, there will always be those one or two teachers that believe it is not right to watch a movie in school. As for me, I use this time to introduce the Christmas classics (such as It’s a Wonderful Life) and impart a brief history lesson to the students on this day as we watch.
Time to Make Resolutions
Even though most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February, perhaps you will stick with yours. However, if you share your resolutions with others, there is a greater chance you will stick with them.
Because of this, sit down with your entire class and ask everyone to come up with five resolutions that will change their lives for the better. Let them know that they will be sharing these resolutions with everyone in the class in an effort to hold them more accountable to staying with it. And don’t think this lets you off the hook! You will be sharing your five resolutions with your students as well.
This will help some of the students realize that nobody is perfect and everyone has areas in their lives that need improvement. By letting the students see that you have things you have to improve about yourself, they should feel much better about their own self-esteem.
Send a Thank You Card for Every Gift Received from Students
One of the next best things for a teacher, besides summer vacation, is receiving gifts from your students during the holidays. For them and their family to think so highly of you that they bought you a gift should speak volumes. Be sure to send a thank you card as it will demonstrate to them the proper response for a person receiving a gift. With that said, here are five interesting Christmas gifts I have received as a teacher over the years!
1. A Gavel
This fourth-grade student had a great sense of humor and she always thought my podium looked like I was presiding as a judge. The gavel was the perfect touch!
2. A Ten Dollar Bill with a Note
This elementary student was always a bit on the uptight side. She could be quite hard on herself. I think the pairing of us was perfect. The note said, “Thanks for making me laugh.” The ten-dollar bill was taped to it. Of course, I tried to find a million ways to give the money back to her for the rest of the year, but she would have none of it.
3. A Megaphone
This megaphone was legit enough that I could be heard through the whole crowded hallway if needed. Plus, there was a siren built into it. All teachers should think about getting one!
4. Framed Pictures of Our Class
I have received such a gift several times throughout my teaching career. Each time, it is always a fun memory from class. It usually brings a smile to all of our faces.
I’m not one to drink coffee first thing in the morning, so I usually would start off my day in the classroom sipping on a Coke off to the side to help wake up. I never realized how close the students were watching my actions until I received 72 cans of Coke for Christmas one year from a very observant class.
1- Practical suggestions for the run up to Christmas
2- How to make the mist of the Christmas holidays
3- Teacher survival guide. How to keep going until Christmas
4- 5 New Year’s resolutions for teachers
5- More win-win New Year’s resolutions for teachers