Today, I welcome the fabulous Jennifer from Happy Teacher Mama as she shares 6 tips for a stress-free holiday in the classroom! I love Jennifer’s take on embracing the chaos of the season. A must-read for all my classroom teachers!
As a kid, I always looked forward to holidays at school. There was just so much anticipation and excitement wrapped up in them. But when I became a teacher, there was a little less anticipation and a lot more stress.
As teachers, we are held accountable for the learning that goes on in our classrooms every single day. And, that includes those days leading up to our students’ favorite holidays.
But, instead of dreading the upcoming holidays, I have 6 tips to help you actually embrace them as the perfect time to engage your students in the very skills they need to be learning!
6 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday in the Classroom
1. Use holiday themed activities
This is obviously one of the easiest ways to incorporate learning into the hectic holiday seasons. You can create your own holiday themed activities or you can find some amazing resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Abby has some of the best on TpT! You can find over 130 activities that she has created for a variety of different holidays and seasons. She also has a fun Holiday Bucket List printable you can download to use with your students, too!
But, if your budget is tight and you can’t afford to purchase any new resources, simply add movement to your routine.
Let your kids participate in a SCOOT using addition flashcards placed on each desk. Turn on festive instrumental music to add seasonal flair without creating distraction!
Do your students need to practice writing a “friendly letter?” Give them students clipboards, let them sit around the room, and have them write letters to those serving in our military that will be away from home during the holidays.
Anything you do to make a “regular” activity more holiday based will increase the interest and engagement of your students.
2. Open Margin in the School Day for Conversations
You know, as well as I do, that elementary students around the world are busting at the seams to talk about the holidays and what excites them about the season.
They want to talk about gifts and candy, relatives who will be coming over, where they will be traveling, and games they want to play during the holidays.
So, instead of fighting against the conversations, actually set aside time and allow them to have those conversations. You can encourage them to talk together as a whole group or with turn and talk partners.
This will be a win-win because…
- The kids get to say all the things they are DYING to say.
- You will be able to engage them and receive insight into the lives of your students,
- The information you learn during this time will allow you to find ways to love each of them better!
Relationships are built on spending time with your students and showing interest in the things they are passionate about.
So, allow the natural progression of the conversations to help you cultivate deeper relationships with them and for them to create more meaningful relationships with each other.
3. Research Different Celebrations and Cultures
The kids are going to be so excited to talk about all of the impending activities and what they are going to do with their friends and family. So, harness that energy and channel it into conversations and group discussions about the similarities and differences in how families celebrate.
As a class, spend some time researching and learning about some lesser-known holidays from around the world. You can even create or purchase unit plans that incorporate celebrations from a variety of cultures.
This will help your students see outside of the same 5 holidays that they all celebrate and begin to realize that there is a great big world full of unique cultures and people!
4. Be Flexible
This one is really hard for teachers who like to make a plan and stick to the plan. Having a plan is essential, but you still need to be willing to deviate when needed.
If flexibility is not your strong suit, consider building time into your day for those inevitable “things” that will pop up unexpectedly. Then, you can still stick to your plan even when something unexpected happens.
You can also consider a “Plan B” activity for the space that you have added into your schedule. Trust me when I tell you that it’s easier to embrace the possibility of an impromptu schedule change than to plan for a regular day that has to be modified on the spot.
5. Incorporate Goal-Setting to Stay on Task
To keep yourself and your students accountable during these seasons, set goals as a class and individually. This is a great way to stay on task.
You can set some goals for yourself that might include adding one holiday/seasonal activity per week leading up to the actual holiday or letting your students have extra time for the conversations they so desperately want to have.
Your students can set personal goals that might include scores they are working to achieve or behavioral goals. These will help them be accountable for themselves.
Then set some class goals that might include behavior during special classes or transition times. Set timers to keep everyone focused and consider including whole class behavior management plans.
6. Give Yourself Grace
This is one of the most important things for you to remember. You don’t have to do 52 Christmas activities, put up 3 Christmas trees, and add lights to your classroom to be a good teacher!
You need to know your own limits and you need to decide what you feel like your class of students can handle.
- Do you want to stick to the status quo and keep forging ahead with your daily schedule? Then do that.
- Want to try a project with your students or a seasonal classroom transformation? You should DO IT!
Remember why you became a teacher. Most likely, you love kids and wanted to inspire them to greatness. So, do that by creating an environment of community.
And if the project turns out to be a flop, give yourself grace. If your schedule ends up being way too chaotic, give yourself grace. If you decide to only do one “holiday” activity per season, give yourself grace.
Social media can make us feel like we have to do ALL THE THINGS to be a great teacher, and that just isn’t true.
There will be years where you can do tons of seasonal stuff and the activities will be executed perfectly. But, there will be years that are less than Pinterest-worthy.
When you find yourself saying, “I should ____,” just stop and remind yourself that you are doing your best. And then give yourself grace.
Your students would much rather have a teacher who is happy to see them and only does one holiday activity, than a teacher who is exhausted and overly stressed because the classroom transformation didn’t go as planned.
This holiday season, try to focus on the relational aspect of the different holidays and how you want your students to feel during the seasons. Then, just try to enjoy the time you have with your students.
I hope you enjoyed reading these 6 tips for a stress-free holiday in the classroom!
This post was generously provided by Jennifer from Happy Teacher Mama!
Jennifer is a former elementary school teacher (M.Ed.) turned
homeschooling mama to her two boys. When she’s not with her husband &
kiddos, she’s teaching English online with VIPKid, creating educational
resources on TpT, organizing ALL THE THINGS, sharing her love for Jesus,
or watching New Girl.
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