The excitement of the holiday season is in the air and winter break is just around the corner. Amid all the hustle and bustle, a few days can seem like an eternity. Distractions come easily; that is, if you’ve managed to find focus in your classroom at all. Desks are messy, school bags are bulging, and everyone is counting the days — maybe the hours — until the final school bell rings to signal sweet, sweet freedom.
Imagine how the students must feel!
We know you’ve been working hard for the past few months to create the best possible learning experiences for your students. You’ve earned this brief time away and we’ve been wondering how you plan to spend it. In true Tch fashion, we asked our outstanding community of educators to find out.
Teachers Need Time To Focus On Self-Care, Family, and Fun
“Two words: self care. Sleep in, relax, read, enjoy your family, see movies, take naps, write, exercise – whatever makes you feel you.” — Heather Harlen, author, ELA teacher, grades 9-12
“My primary goal is to relax and spend time with my family.” — Brice Hostutler, Special Education/Therapeutic Support teacher, grades 9-12
“I will spend time hanging out with my family at the beach on Cape Cod… I hope to take in the beautiful sights, laugh, and chill.” — Ann Rose Santoro, Instructional Support Specialist: Technology, grades K-12
“I hope to be able to relax and do something I enjoy doing but never have time for: baking, reading, and crocheting.” — Sheila Howard, Social Studies teacher, grade 8
“I go snorkeling. Need to recharge the battery.” — Susan Keyock, Administrator
“Decorating for the holidays, time with family and friends, lots of cooking and baking, time with my favorite four-legged furry babies.” — Jodi Stafford, Foods & Consumer Science teacher, grades 9-12
“Getting well deserved rest so that I can recharge and return refreshed for the next half of the year.” — Greta Hansen, Tch Facebook Community
“I try my best to relax and catch my breath from the first part of the school year. One of my favorite things to do is to go to the movies by myself (I like company too — I am married). There is something about being able to go and watch a great action movie by yourself with other people around… enjoying it all with you. I also try to plan and strategize on how to finish out the year strong.” — Josh Parker, Tch Laureate, Instructional Coach
“Sleep.” — Karen Walker, Associate Professor of Education, Tch Facebook Community
“Sleeping, cooking, and cleaning.” — Lara Bobtail, Tch Facebook Community
“Do what makes you smile, catch up with your reading in relaxing locations, get plenty of fresh air, daydream…” — Patti White, Tch Next Gen Squadster, Science Coordinator, Instructional Coach
“I can’t agree more with self-care: SLEEP… SLEEP… SLEEP! But also… doctor’s appointments that I have put off and am finally getting to! So a few of those… Also doing an art project at a local coffee shop with a teaching colleague, taking a short trip to see a college roommate, clean, organize, work out, and spending time with my kiddos!!!” — Crystal Morey, Tch Laureate, mathematics instructional coach, grades K-6
“While I definitely agree that sleep is a wonderful option, I prefer to get out and explore! One perk of being an educator is that you likely have large blocks of time at your disposal. Take advantage of this opportunity to run away from home! Hop into a car or into a plane. Go see something new, eat at a new restaurant, have a new life experience. Do something to escape from the routine as January-March is a long, difficult stretch with very few breaks on the calendar.” — Tom Jenkins, Tch Laureate, Science and STEM teacher, grades 6-8
“Relax, reflect, and celebrate.” — Anthony Marshall, Social Studies teacher, grades 9-12
“All the holiday stuff, hiking my feet off, repairing things on my mom’s house, cleaning and painting, taking my dog to training, baking goodies for people…” — Jennifer Binkley, Tch Facebook Community
“Try to chill with family and friends!” — Donna Staten, Art Specialist, grades K-5
“Spend time with family and friends.” — Georgia Miller, Tch Facebook Community
“Sleep here and there… and make tamales for Christmas!” — Lillianna Gallo, AP Spanish Literature and AP Spanish Language teacher, grades 9-12
If You Really Want To Work…
“If you want to work, schedule it for a few hours on a couple of days. You can’t give your students what they need through the winter if you run yourself ragged over holiday break. Take off the Mr./Miss/Mrs./Ms. hat and enjoy being YOU outside of the classroom.” — Heather Harlen, Author, ELA teacher, grades 9-12
“Along with all the classroom teacher stuff, I try to tell my story as a teacher to make my voice and experience heard.” — Carey Ma, ELA teacher, grades 9-12
“Grading and working on my formal observation…” — Jodi Stafford, Foods & Consumer Science teacher, grades 9-12
“Get caught up on planning, observation paperwork, SLO reflection, grading, and laundry. Hopefully I’ll be able to find time to read, too.” — James Lamb, math teacher, grades 9-12
“I do try and take one day to myself where I will sneak into school or go to a coffee shop and simply declutter some of the things that I have been putting off. To me, getting those pesky tasks done over break lets me come back motivated and ready to try new things.” — Brice Hostutler, Special Education/Therapeutic Support teacher, grades 9-12
“Reflect on the previous semester, modify my instruction for the second half of the year, lesson plan, update unit maps…” — Lillianna Gallo, AP Spanish Literature and AP Spanish Language teacher, grades 9-12
“Catch up on new YA literature to use with my students in the near future and participate in Twitter chats, too!” — Leigh Anne Geib, Special Education/ELA teacher, grades 9-12
“Plan lessons for the spring semester; catch up on professional reading; try to make some kind of artwork…” — Donna Staten, Art Specialist, grades K-5
“Catch up on grading, compile data for SLO and Action Research… always busy with school work!” — Lisa Bly Smith, Business, grades 9-12
“The past few years, I’ve had some sort of big “project” to complete. Last year, it was assembling the portfolio required to renew my teaching certificate. Unfortunately, I didn’t work on it as much as I would have liked during the fall, other than collecting and documenting artifacts I would need, because it was just too much for my plate. Therefore, my winter break consisted of several hours a day working to complete it by the January 31st deadline. Was this restful and relaxing? Not necessarily, but taking advantage of those two weeks helped keep me sane the months leading up to them and the month between them and my portfolio due date.” — Brooke Perry, Instructional Coach
“When I was teaching, I would spend the first few days relaxing and spending time with family until the day after Christmas. Then the work began! The break was a great time to dive into new projects for my classroom and revise existing work. I would usually knock a few lesson plans out of the way and sometimes go into the school to walk through some new lessons and update boards in the room. It was a peaceful time where I could really think about those learning opportunities for the students. Also, it was a good time to reflect on what took place the first half of the year. Happy to say that I generally went back to school with a fresh perspective and ready to meet with students again.” — Shelia Banks, Administrator, Assistant Director of Academics
Tips For New Teachers
“Erase your board, change your classroom calendar, clear off your desk and have easy fun lessons for the first few days back. A clean desk will help you feel more at peace when you leave so you aren’t stressed by the “mess” when you return. As for easy lessons, some students will take “longer” vacations and you don’t want to have a bunch of makeup work at the very beginning of a new nine weeks/semester/new year.” — Sheila Howard, Social Studies teacher, grade 8
“To new teachers, if bringing work home helps take off some of the pressure when school is in session, then I say do it. But be sure you carve out sacred time to spend with your family, friends, and self, because those moments are more restorative than anything else.” — Brooke Perry, Instructional Coach
“If you have plants in your room, make sure to give them a healthy dose of water or take them home with you over break… I seem to forget this every year. Happy Holidays everyone!!” — Brice Hostutler, Special Education/Therapeutic Support teacher, grades 9-12
Whether you choose to work, play, or simply unplug and recharge for the new year, we send you our very best wishes for an amazing holiday break!
And, don’t forget to take care of YOU, because you are your students’ most valuable resource.
Lisa Hollenbach is Editorial Content Manager for Teaching Channel. She’s a former high school Social Studies teacher and Department Chair, who has experience planning and implementing professional development with educational technology integration and innovation, and teaching and learning with the Literacy Design Collaborative framework. Lisa is also an adjunct professor, working closely with pre-service social studies teachers and behavioral science students at Lebanon Valley College and Pennsylvania State University. She is passionate about storytelling, teacher voice and leadership, collaboration, innovative instruction, social learning, and redefining professional development. Lisa is a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council, several ECET2 Steering Committees, and is a Co-Founder, Director, and Writing Coach for the National Blogging Collaborative, a non-profit organization that cultivates and supports the capacity of all educators to use their unique voice to elevate the craft of teaching and learning. Connect with Lisa on Teaching Channel or on Twitter: @lisa_hollenbach.