It’s the last day of school before Christmas break. You’re singing along to Christmas carols and sipping hot cocoa. You have a long list of things to do but you can’t stop smiling. You wonder if it is possible for anyone else to be as excited as you are about the upcoming break and the holidays. It is possible for someone to be as excited as you are. It’s your students. And their excitement will often manifest itself as unrestrained chaos. It is important to be proactive in your planning in order to make the day as stress-free as possible.
Make sure you have a plan.
I don’t remember anything from right before the Christmas holiday my first year teaching. I must have blocked that part out. I do remember my second year, though. I thought I could fill time for one hour by discussing our favorite holiday memories. That’s right. I thought I could spend 60 minutes just talking to 30 seventh graders the day we got out for Christmas break. It did not go well. Luckily I had time to revamp my plan before my next class.
Be firm with your expectations.
It may be Christmastime, but that doesn’t mean you should be more flexible with your expectations and rules. The students will already have extra energy from the time of year and extra candy they probably have access to. Don’t make things worse by giving them free rein. Make sure you have a plan in place and you quickly and firmly manage anyone that does not meet your expectations.
Change things up a bit.
I’ve always found it difficult to harness the energy of my students right before the break and engage them in meaningful activities. I always want to do something different but I don’t really have the time to do anything that isn’t directly related to the standards. It can be nice to do something that seems a bit more festive. My context clues color by number activities are a wonderful way to use context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words. There is a Christmas version as well!
The holidays can be a stressful time at work and at home. The day before the break doesn’t have to be too stressful. Make sure that you’ve planned engaging, meaningful tasks and that you make your expectations clear!