By Andrew Pillow
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
That quote and sentiment is echoed by many different types of people this time of the year, but trust me, no one feels the power in that quote more than teachers.
Christmas break marks the halfway point of the school year and the start of two weeks away from children. For new teachers, it’s a chance to catch your breath from the whirlwind of teaching. A quick stint in the teacher’s lounge the week before Christmas break reveals teachers often have different ideas about how to spend their break. Some choose to do absolutely nothing. Some choose to work. Some try and strike a balance.
None of them are “wrong.” It’s simply a personal preference. But, if you have not yet found a routine that works for you, allow me to offer some suggestions. Here are five things teacher should do over break:
This should be at the top of your list. You have been working hard for five months straight. Managing children is exhausting. That is the reason teachers get more breaks. You should take advantage. The typical two-week break gives more than enough time for you to sit around, be lazy and decompress. There is always something that you could be doing for the rest of the school year. The first week of Christmas break is the best time to ignore that fact.
2. Lesson Plan
Lesson planning isn’t fun; however, I find that I don’t hate it nearly as much when I have more time. During the hectic school year, lesson planning is a chore, something I have to do in-between managing students and grading papers. This leads to less time for me and half-baked lesson plans. Take some time to lesson plan. I typically like to plan all the way to spring break, so I don’t have any to do during next quarter.
3. Grade papers
Most people don’t like grading however it is one of the most important things a teacher does. I find that I am often too rushed to give quality feedback on papers during the semester. This is why the break is critical. It is really the only time I can closely examine what is happening in a student’s work. I only grade one assignment over the break, but it’s typically one that gives me the opportunity to see where a student is struggling.
Teachers always say they wish they had more time to get better at their craft. This is a good time to do it. That teaching book you have been putting off? This is a good time to read it. That observation feedback you’ve been getting? This is a good time to start incorporating it.
Nobody is “just” a teacher. All of us have other things we like to do outside of the classroom. If you are like me, you are too exhausted from teaching on most school nights to engage in any kind of meaningful hobby. Allow this to be the time where that changes. If you are a reader? Read. If you are a gamer? Game. Do whatever is you have been telling yourself you wish you had more time to do.
Of course, this is just my list. Anyone can and will do whatever they want on your break, but I have found that this is what works for me and if you are inclined to try, it may work for you too.