5 Tips for a Great Winter Break from School!

Reset and Relaunch
As the holidays approach, there’s an excited energy in the air at school. There’s much to finish before the break and many extra events to weave into the mix. School life becomes hectic. While your 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 week 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 before break. Our Thursday post will cover five more last-minute tips to have a smooth return after winter break.

5 Tips for the Last Week Before Winter Break

  1. Create and confirm plans for class plants and pets.
    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 “Mortimer” might mean their child cannot take the bus home on Friday, causing a chain reaction on a day when everyone wants to leave on time.

Write up 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 helps 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.

  1. Purge, pack, and prepare learning centers and student materials.
    Recycle, send home, and share anything you’ll no longer need in January. Send home student work and clear out folders to be ready for the second half of the year. Early finishers can even reinforce their take-home folders. Recycle or share books, newspapers, handouts, magazines, etc., with other teachers. Does the art teacher need items for upcoming projects? The library will 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 that day. Whip up a few labels so it’s clear to everyone what goes home and does not need to come back.
  1. Map out your lesson plans for the first two weeks of school after break.
    Doing this now can seem like an extra burden in an already busy week, but while you’re in school and teaching this week, your instructional priorities are top of mind. 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. Besides, this week is going 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.

As an extra planning boost, early in the week, create a “Return” folder and place it on the corner of your desk. As the week progresses, 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.

  1. Get ready to spruce up your classroom for next semester.
    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.
  1. Map out your photocopy needs for January.
    The week before break often means there are extra volunteers in the building who might be available to do 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 folder now. You’ll appreciate this later. Remember 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.

Really Great Products for a Really 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.

Modern Desk Accessories
MCRDSJT5-2T   MCRDSKC5-2T Modern Desk Set Kids Colors  Modern Desk Set Jewel Tone

  • Want to spruce up you desk with new desk accessories after winter break? These desk sets are fantastic ways to spend a holiday gift card to treat yourself to gifts you’ll use each day.
  • Stapler, cup, tape dispenser, and supplies tray each come in two different colors.
  • Check out the two choices for those much-needed tissue box covers, too.
  • There are four different sets to choose from as well as color-coordinated product mixes with journals and more.
  • Each desk accessory is also sold separately.

Travel Kit for Teachers
Teacher Travel Kit

  • 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
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.

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 yourself and your students?

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.

Success Starts with a Smartly Arranged Classroom

A new school year means a new start for you, your students, and your classroom. HOW you arrange WHERE you teach is important. As teachers stream into schools to unroll posters from last year, make new locker signs, and set up classroom spaces, it’s an excellent time to consider something new. Just because you always had the word wall by the door doesn’t mean it has to go there again. Give your classroom—and yourself—a fresh new set up.

Big Goals Set Your Stage
First, articulate your big goals for the year. If you are teaching a new grade level this year, goal setting will be a natural part of your planning steps. If you are returning Continue reading “Success Starts with a Smartly Arranged Classroom”

Back-to-School Ideas for Teachers to Involve Families, Part 1

Teacher-Family Partnerships Work
The partnership between teachers and families is critical to ensuring academic success for your students. It is also a significant factor in your own success as a teacher. The families of the students in your class can be your biggest champions and supporters. As a teacher, you have likely developed a well-honed ability to connect with your students. Leveraging this skill set to families can do wonders for your classroom—and students. When you consider the families of your students as an extended facet of your classroom community, you will be able to forge powerful partnerships.

This partnership, like any, could have its ups and downs. The back-to-school ideas listed below can help you involve families and create great partnerships will add value to your classroom all year long. Get your year off to a terrific start by reaching out to families in many different ways. Explore these options and see what works best for you. Continue reading “Back-to-School Ideas for Teachers to Involve Families, Part 1”