While many people have idyllic memories and traditions during the holidays that they simply can’t wait to get to, for some it’s actually not the “most wonderful time of the year.” There are many reasons as to why. Whether it’s financial burdens, estrangement from family or just a case of the bah humbugs, this time of year can really be hard for classroom management, mental health and your bank account. How can you help make the holidays brighter in your classroom? I have some helpful tips!
- Check in with your families and yourself. Utilize the resources that are available in your school. While your school counselor is there for your students, they are also there for you with a wealth of knowledge on local resources you can use yourself or recommend. Maybe a grief support group could help navigate a first holiday without a loved one or charitable groups can help supplement food, clothing, gifts and other necessities. This holiday season, if you are in a place of giving, reach out to your school’s counselor to help connect you to students within your building who may be in need.
- Keep your routines. This time of year is full of surprises, schedule changes and unknowns. Your classroom routines are an anchor to your students in an otherwise unstable schedule. While we all love to have holiday parties, special events and the like, really think about and be intentional with what you are doing in the classroom. There are lots of fun ways to incorporate seasonal fun into the content areas that still allow for learning, engagement and excitement without disrupting the daily routine. In my class, we host a greens sale and pop-up shop for faculty and staff. The kids create holiday arrangements after learning how to identify the different types of native pines and then sell them to raise money for spring field trips.
- No gifts please! I want my students to know I respect whatever holiday traditions occur in their families. Between allergies and different backgrounds, gift giving and getting it right for everyone is nearly impossible. Instead, we have a Snowdown Showdown. We all pick dates on the winter calendar that we predict will be a snow day or delay. If your guess is correct, you win a little treat. This keeps the festive season going from December into March since we have snow possible until the beginning of April in our area.
I love this time of year and sharing the excitement of the season through the eyes of my students, but it’s okay to celebrate the holiday season in a way that’s both fun and respectful in your classroom. Your presence in your students’ lives is present enough, and the fact that you care matters.
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