Congratulations—the holidays are finally here! Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy some much-needed time off. And who are some of the most deserving of a holiday break? Teachers! Now is the time to recharge your batteries so you can get back to your classroom after the holiday ready to help your students succeed.
Need a little inspiration? Here are a few suggestions to help you unwind and recharge over the break:
- Get organized: You’ve had a crazy, busy fall with all the planning, teaching, and assessing. There is no doubt that some basic needs at home have been put to the wayside. Well, now you can finally have a little bit of time to wrap gifts, clean, donate your old coats, or dust off your fireplace tools! If I don’t get to cleaning before the break begins, I give the house a good clean right before I return to work. It feels good to go back to school with a clean house!
- Holiday events: There are always so many parties, holiday shows, volunteer opportunities, and lights to see this time of year. Usually, the last few weeks leading up to break can be too tiring or stressful to try to fit all of those special events into your schedule. Since the break is here, you can actually go and take pleasure in these activities without the guilt of papers to grade! I love to spend time with my family ice skating outdoors or volunteering at a homeless shelter. It feels good to do something for those who might not have the same holiday experience as us.
- Travel: Whether you’re planning to visit family or if family is traveling to you, having a few days off can help you prepare for and enjoy the experience. The best part is trying to give yourself a day or two on either end of travel time so you have a few days to regroup. Usually, those days consist of me sitting in my pajamas all day curled up with a good book!
- Mornings: One of the best parts of holiday break are the mornings. We teachers usually have to start our school day between 7:30 and 8:00, so we are used to being early risers. The beauty of the break is that you get to decide whether you want to get up at your usual early morning time to actually sit and enjoy a full cup of coffee or maybe stay in bed and enjoy some extra ZZZZs. There is nothing greater than a quiet morning!
- Reflection: Believe me when I say I do not bring home schoolwork over the break—and I recommend you do the same. But I do take a minute (maybe while I am taking pleasure with my full cup of coffee!) to reflect on my year so far. I take time to think about what has been working this year for my students and what hasn’t. Once you’ve done some reflecting, you can begin to think about how you can make some necessary changes or additions. January can bring a fresh start to your classroom. I always like to rearrange my students’ seats or add some new lessons to my morning routine.
- Sleep: Oh, how I love thee! It’s so nice to get a little extra sleep over break. Whether it’s sleeping in, going to bed early, or taking a nap by the fire, getting some extra rest can really be restorative. Even if you’re not a big napper, just taking a minute to close your eyes can prove to be refreshing. While I do love a good nap, if I don’t have time for one, I will set the timer and close my eyes for ten minutes. It does wonders.
- Friends: Remember all those people you had to decline invitations from this fall because you were either too busy with schoolwork or too exhausted to go out? Well, take some time to reconnect during the break! Friends make you smile and laugh, which can do wonders for your heart. My favorite is just grabbing a couple of drinks or some appetizers during happy hour. Good friends are like free therapy: good for the soul!
- Family: Of course, family is such an important part of any holiday season. Teachers love being with other people’s kids each day, but now we can have some quality time with our own kids or nieces/nephews. Making memories with our loved ones is such a precious gift. My favorite is to cuddle with my kids under blankets and watch a family movie by the fireplace. Add the holiday decorations and it’s a little slice of heaven.
- Decompress: Being able to take time to calm down and relax is important for our own self-care. We can’t fill anyone up unless we take care of ourselves. Teaching requires so much energy and unconditional love for others on a daily basis. So, take some time for you: needlepoint, read, take a yoga class, or get a massage. Yoga and writing are two of my favorite ways to decompress.
Webster’s definition of recharge is “to return to a normal state of mind or strength after a period of physical or mental exertion.” I love the phrase “mental exertion” because that is spot on with teaching! We have just spent half of the year exerting ourselves mentally and, quite possibly, physically as well. But we still have half of the year left!
We need to return to our classrooms feeling refreshed so we can tackle the last semester with gusto and vigor. Taking time over the break to recharge will allow us to return to our “normal state of mind” so we can be the kinds of teachers our students need in order to be successful. I enjoy greeting my students after break with genuine love in my heart. And after having some time to recharge, I know I can put my best foot forward as we journey toward the end of the year together.
What’s your favorite way to recharge over the holiday break? Let us know in the comments below!
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