Before you know it, your winter break will be here. It should be a time to refresh, renew, and restore, but for many it can become a time of busyness and little rest. If you are not proactive, it will be over before you can say Happy New Year. Here are six tips to make the most of your break.
1. Finish and Finalize
Do you have papers hanging over your head to grade before the break? What about a corner that needs to be organized? Do you have lessons that could be planned for that first week when you come back?
Do it now! Take the time to complete your tasks instead of procrastinating for them to be completed when you get back. They say that successful teachers leave their classroom with fewer tasks not more. Guaranteed there will be things that crop up when you return, so if you can check tasks off your list, you’ll open up your brain space to enjoy your time off.
2. Close the Classroom Door and Leave It All There
It’s time to spend your time with family and friends. Pen time in for yourself too. Recreation’s purpose is to “recreate” making you fresh for the new year. You’ll be much more calm and effective if you have given your work brain a rest.
3. Trade the News for Music
If you are one who must keep up with current events via Facebook, talk radio, cable news, or a news blog, make it a goal to unplug from it all. If it is truly urgent, you’ll hear about it. Instead, why not listen to some of your favorite old tunes? Better yet, find a venue to listen to some live music. There is nothing like watching the beauty of live musical instruments being played. It will awaken your senses, and it may freshen your outlook to tackle your daily tasks.
4. Try to Stick to Your Sleep Routine
I’m going to sleep in every day! This is probably you’re first thought. Rest is encouraged, sure, but if you deviate far from your sleep schedule, you’ll have a difficult time adjusting when school starts back up.
5. Read a Book or Two!
Get off tweeting, posting, commenting, and liking, and get your nose in a book. There are many health benefits to stimulating your brain from reading. Stress reduction, mental acuteness, and knowledge are just a few advantages. Your brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised just like your body. Use it or lose it. While you’re at it, start thinking about adopting a new habit of reading more often in the coming year.
6. One thing
When you return it will be a brand new year. Sure, you could make a list of New Year’s Resolutions, but why not think of just one thing professional and one thing personal; one thing you’ll change or refine in the new year. Maybe it’s a new classroom management strategy. Perhaps it’s adding three days a week of exercise to your life. You may want to work on a character trait like being more grateful. If you can limit it to one thing, you’re more likely to be successful. Write it down in your journal, post it on your desktop, tell one accountability partner, and make it happen.
Make the most of your time off. It will fly by, so if you can take these six things to heart, you’re sure to come back refreshed and revitalized ready for a New Year.
Dr. Stephanie Knight is an experienced 7th and 8th grade English language arts educator. She taught in Title One schools for eight years—helping them grow from underperforming to excelling—and then in an independent school for four years. Knight is now is part of Grand Canyon University’s adjunct faculty where she teaches graduate level education and reading courses.