Making a list, checking it twice: Preparing for Winter Break

Here’s a few things to consider before Winter Break:

1. You need time to relax and decompress. Research on teacher well-being shows that this time is critical for you to recharge. Your families need you. You need to focus on them, and doing nice things for yourself. As professionals, there will always be more work to do. Now is not the time to try to do it, because you’ll just end up with more to do.

2. Don’t take a large stack of papers home to grade. If you do it, you’ll be miserable. If you don’t do it, you’ll be miserable Sunday night before we return. Nothing is worse than bringing papers home to grade then having to bring them back ungraded (which is why I swore off bringing papers home years ago). If your New Year’s resolution is to grade more often, being defeated over break isn’t the way to start. You will have planning time during exam week where you can catch up on grades if you still need to.

3. Unplug devices –coffee pots/Keurigs, TVs, lights, etc.– but not your computer (updates may run over break but you can turn it off and they’ll still run). Bloomingdale’s media center caught on fire on Christmas Day one year (due to no fault of a teacher, but a contractor doing renovations). There’s nothing more heartbreaking than hearing about that on Christmas Day and coming back to work to a soggy room full of ruined books (my apologies to English teachers who just died a little on the inside).

4. Make copies of your review materials now. Come back with a fresh start on Monday. Do everything you can now to prep the room, materials and lessons. Don’t have that Sunday night guilty feeling (which isn’t a bad New Year’s resolution–turning that feeling into one of excitement because you know your class/lesson is ready to go).

5. Get all food out of the classroom. Tis the season for holiday cultural celebrations, but coming back to bugs and other creatures isn’t pleasant. That means your emergency chocolate stash too (I know I can’t be the only one).

6. Give some love to your custodian. Maybe your hall can collect for a gift card (we did in my old classroom area). Find where you can deliver leftover treats to custodians instead of throwing them away. And please, with those holiday cultural celebrations, try to take out the trash yourself when possible (or least get extra bags–the mounds of plates and cups spilling out of the trash isn’t fun to deal with–multiply it by their hall assignments and Friday is a terrible day for them).

7. If you have a window, close your blinds and make sure the windows are locked. Keep valuables locked away to not make the school a tempting target for theft.

8. I hope my mentees take the Starbucks gift card I gave them and go enjoy a warm drink with someone you love. We are teachers because we care, and we need to remember to nourish our other relationships too.

Hope you all have a safe, wonderful, restful break!

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