Reset and Relaunch
As the holidays approach, there’s an excited energy in the air at school and at home. There’s much to finish before the break and many extra events to weave into the mix. School life becomes hectic and sleep becomes more elusive. While your school main priority is keeping your students focused so this week isn’t “lost,” this is also a key week for you as a teacher. This week is the time to make even a sliver of time to reset and set up your own post-break relaunch. Doing this the weeks before winter break allows you to more effectively relax, recuperate, and recharge on your time away from school.
Before you depart for your well-deserved vacation, Teacher Peach has five quick tips to share. These tips will help lead you into winter break with a clearer mind. Just knowing that your re-entry in January will go more smoothly will make the time investment now worthwhile. (Add one more thing to my already-packed list? Are you kidding?) Just scan these tips. This blog post offers five tips best done early in the week or on the weekend before break. Next week we will cover five more last-minute tips to have a smooth return after winter break.
5 Tips for the Weeks Before Winter Break
1. Make class plants and pets your pet project! Create and confirm plans now for winter break. If you have plants, pets, or ongoing projects that need care and attention over the break, secure your support teams early in the week, if you’ve not done so already. If you have lined up families willing to take home a plant or class pet over the break, be sure to confirm again this week. People tend to forget, and bringing home “Harold the Hamster” might mean their child cannot take the bus home on the last day, causing a chaotic chain reaction on a day when everyone wants to leave on time. You might even end up having Harold at your house if these plans go awry.
Write up detailed care instructions and tape them to the pot, cage, or box itself. Sending via email is a great double-check, but having directions, food, and information in tangible proximity can help ensure a successful winter break experience all around. These instructions are a great opportunity to show families how organized you are and will help reduce their stress over the break. The extra plus to this approach means you won’t get an emergency email or cell call right in the middle of your own holiday celebrations and preparation.
2. Make room for 2017! Purge, pack, and prepare learning centers and student materials. Review, recycle, purge, send home, and share anything you’ll no longer need in January. Send home student work and clear out folders to be sure your kids are ready for the second half of the year. Early finishers can even reinforce their take-home folders. It also sends a good message to your kids that after Winter Break can be a good time to hit the rest button for a fresh start.
Recycle or share books, newspapers, handouts, magazines, etc., with other teachers. Does the art teacher need items for upcoming projects? The library will definitely appreciate any books that aren’t being used, and perhaps other teachers can use extra handouts. Students make great messengers, delivering items to various locations within the school.
If your class is going to host a holiday party, this early-in-the-week clean up also ensures your room sparkles when families join at the end of the week. They can even take home first semester work on party day when adults are there to help. Whip up a few labels so it’s clear to everyone what goes home and does not need to come back. Remember to suggest that lockers are also tidy for this party day.
3. Doing lesson plans now makes for an easier return. Prep now for the first two weeks of school after Winter Break. While doing this now can seem like an extra burden in an already busy week, you’re in school and teaching this week, your instructional priorities are top of mind. Prepping now means you won’t need to spend that last Sunday before school starts reconstructing or scratching your head to remember exactly where you left off on every small aspect of your teaching plan.
This week’s bound to be filled with interruptions. If you refer back to the plan you made yesterday, you’ll likely forget the things you didn’t have time to cover exactly as you had planned. Just think of how happy you’ll be when you get ready to come back to school, knowing this work is done and waiting for you. Your only assignment will be to get a good night’s sleep before school resumes.
As an extra planning boost, create a “Return” folder and place it on the corner of your desk early in the week. As the week progresses, you can then tuck in this folder everything you’ll want to immediately put your hands on when you first return. You’ll be amazed at how many things you collect during the week and how on top of your game you’ll feel from this simple little “pay-it-forward” activity.
4. Make your plans to spruce up your classroom in January. Even if you don’t have time now to replace your room decorations for the new semester, take a few minutes to pull out materials and ruffle through them. Sometimes, you have less there than you think. By taking a quick inventory now, you’ll know what you need and may be able to find a few things on sale over the break. This is a great task for Tuesday morning; by Thursday, you probably won’t have time. It’s also a great time to check out sales for things to add a bit of sparkle to your own desk. Check out these desk accessories. They’re even on sale right now!
5. Map out copy needs for next quarter. The week before break often means that extra volunteers are in the building. If you’re prepared, they might be available to help with your copy jobs. It’s also a time when others are not focused on this behemoth task. While there may be a line at the copier for those holiday word search puzzles, your meatier curricular materials are likely to get first dibs. At the very least, if you know what your copying needs are likely to be for January, you can reserve some paper ahead of time.
This is true of bigger, third-quarter projects, too. If you know you’ll be doing a research project that has lots of handouts, pull your folders now. You’ll appreciate this later. Remember, it’s important to write clear instructions if holiday volunteers are doing your work, though. The few extra minutes to clearly explain in writing can save time, paper, toner, and increase self-esteem for everyone involved. You’ll also get materials you can use and save a few trees in the process!
Great Products for a Great Return to School
There’s still time to treat yourself to some just-for-you supplies to get your new semester off to a fresh and productive start. Once you’re rested, you’ll be ready to jump right in. These tools will help keep your own work organized.
This Week’s List of Many Colors!
This week before winter break is bound to be action packed. Chances are, you’ll have more on your to-do list both at school and at home than you can possibly accomplish. Keep priorities in focus by highlighting your list in three colors: one for MUST DO activities with deadlines attached to them, another color for less urgent, yet important activities that will make a difference in the long run, and finally, a third color for those nice-to-accomplish-but-not-vital” actions.
Seeing your list in this way will help reduce your stress and keep you on target to achieve top results. This is a significant way to get your winter break off to a terrific start. By spending your time this week focused on the right work for now and the start of the next semester, you’ll kick off your break feeling proud and accomplished. Can you think of two better gifts to give to your students and for you. Check out this To-Do List in notepad and write-on/wipe-off board formats. The entire Executive Functioning Planning System has something for everyone!
Travel Kit for Teachers
- As a teacher, you’re always on the go. In today’s world, anywhere is your classroom! “From classroom to classroom, hallway to hallway, or school to school. . .” this Travel Kit For Teachers is packed with tools you’ll need.
- This 7-in-1 kit includes a stapler, staples, sticky notes, paper clips, rubber bands, a hole-puncher, and a tape dispenser.
- The kit snaps tightly closed, making this a great commuter item, too.
Cool Teacher Pocket Folders
- Start the new semester with a fresh set of teacher pocket folders. Keep your organization at peak level with these Cool Teacher Pocket Folders!
- These versatile folders have many uses. Upcoming Events for announcements and flyers about school events; School Information for the info you need at your fingertips like fire drills, allergies, etc; Schedule and Memos for special event schedules; and Substitute Teacher for checklists and instructions that are always prepped so the substitute only needs to locate your lesson plan for the day; everything else is tucked in this folder.
- Read the “Wordle” style designs of each folder for ideas and suggestions of relevant documents to include in each.
Be on the lookout for 5 MORE tips for the last day before break. Until then, what tips would you add to the tips listed in this post? What pre-break habits work for you? We want to hear from you.