How to Survive the Weeks Before Holiday Break

The weeks before holiday break are busy and tiring for both you and your students. TeacherVision Advisory Board Member Jessica shares her tips for making classroom management less challenging during this time, and for staying focused on teaching and learning amidst the excitement and distractions.

Updated on: December 3, 2019

How to Survive the Weeks Before Holiday Break

"Holiday break." Those two words make every teacher, and all students, very excited. (Parents...not so much.)

But, the weeks before holiday break...

THOSE make you feel like you’re climbing uphill with snowballs pelting you in the face. You go home with one eye open every day, sometimes just willing yourself to get through the final few weeks...then days...then hours. Sure, you’ll be able to reward yourself with plenty of treats over break...but you have to get there first!

Although these few weeks are exhausting, there are strategies to help you make it through with joy and to keep your classroom management plan from falling apart. Go in with the mindset that things might get a little crazier for the next couple of weeks, but you will make it through on the other end. Have fun with your students and celebrate the holidays with them in your classroom.

Focus on Consistency

December is that magical time of the year when there are so many class parties and performances. Your students will be aware of all the activities coming up, but focus on consistency. Your routine to this point in the year has been the same. So, although there will be many extra events and activities, focus on your normal schedule and sparingly remind your students of all the exciting things coming up.

When you stay calm, your students will respond to that. Children really do thrive on consistency, and although the excitement of this time of year is unavoidable, they’ll want to know that the routines in your classroom are still in place. Then, when it is time for a class party, you can calmly let them know when that time has come, while also reviewing your expectations for how to behave at the party, too.

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them!

Have you ever heard this phrase? I feel like it applies perfectly to those crazy weeks before holiday break. Your students, by virtue of the simple fact that they are children, are likely to be a bit more rowdy than normal. Do you let them just run wild in your room and let all classroom management go out the window? Of course not!

What I mean by “If you can’t beat them, join them” is this: If your students are having a hard time sitting still during your reading lesson, take more brain breaks than normal. When you can tell that the math lesson you’re teaching is pretty much going in one ear and out the other, get those kiddos up and moving or stand up to listen to the lesson. (Can you tell the music teacher in me is all about getting kids moving?)

Since your students will have more energy than ever, be aware and plan for that. Strategically plan moments during the day for dance breaks or other fun activities. Remind your students that they need to finish their work and they can earn a fun reward after they finish their lesson for the day. Of course, you’ll still want to focus on consistency too, but you can use this simple tip to build help students blow off a little steam while still adhering to the normal routine.

Ease Up, But Not Too Much

It's important (and helpful!) to introduce some additional breaks into instruction, but don’t ease up too much. When it comes to your procedures, it’s crucial at this time of the year that your students know your classroom and school-wide rules are still in place. They also need to be aware that the same rewards and consequences still stand.

There may be days when even a dance break isn’t helping. So, you might need to practice procedures with your students like you did at the beginning of the school year. Remind them that they can earn a dance party or another reward just as easily as they can lose it.

Keep the Day Before Holiday Break Relaxed

The day before holiday break will be a little chaotic. Students won’t show up to school or will be paged to leave early. Also, you’ll be busy getting gifts from your students and probably handing them out. Not only that, you’re going to want to clean up your classroom from that holiday party before you also get to go home for holiday break.

On this day, keep the mood calm. Play holiday music or other soft music that relaxes your students. Do a lot more desk work than normal and even fun work like holiday-themed activities or silent reading activities. You can still do a meaningful learning activity, but make sure you give the students plenty of time to finish since some of them may be leaving early.

If going into the weeks before holiday break is stressful for you or has been chaotic in the years past, hopefully implementing some of these ideas will help.

What are your tips for surviving the weeks before holiday break? Share with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Jessica Peresta is passionate about providing other music teachers, especially those right out of college or new to teaching elementary music, with the music education resources, lesson plans, teacher training, and community you've been looking for. She believes your domestic life outside of school should be spent soaking up time with family and friends and your music teacher life while at school should not leave you feeling defeated, but should be a joyful, exciting, and rewarding experience. To find out more about Jessica and her passion, head to The Domestic Musician.

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