You walk in the door, drop the bag of grading you brought home, and set down your laptop on the table. 2 weeks to yourself. You’ve thought about this precious time for the past few months, and especially during the last week of antsy anticipation—both from you and your students. So now what?
1) Sleep In
Getting up at 5:30 AM is no easy feat, especially when there’s a room full of other mini adults who are either eager to get the day started or trying to get a few more zzz’s (usually on the desk). Take the pile of clothes off your bed, throw on an extra snuggly blanket, and don’t wake up until Dr. Phil comes on. Not only will you feel like you’re back in college, but you’ll actually be doing your students a favor. They’ll come back from break to a well rested, uplifted, and calmer teacher, not to mention the other cognitive benefits. Do it for the children!
2) Take a “Recess”
While the kids are out grabbing a snack or chatting about the latest boy band, most teachers spend their recess scrambling to prep for the next round of instruction, or quickly stuffing their face with any sustenance lying around. They forget the joy of being a kid, so spend 20 or 30 minutes a day during your break doing something “recess-y”: play 4-square, doodle in a notebook, or simply catch up with an old friend. Part of being a teacher is your ability to let loose and “play,” so reset your play chakra with a little recess every day.
3) Photo a Day
In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to take for granted the little moments—the dog tearing apart his bed, your nephew pigging out on cookies, the cloud that looks oddly like Scarlet Johansson. Download a photo app and get snapping. You don’t have to be a paparazzo throughout the day, just take a quick second to remind yourself to take a breath, take a photo, and remember your break—it’ll be gone before you know it! If you want to keep the photo inspiration going, challenge your students to do the same and to bring in their favorite photo. You can use it as a way to connect with your students, write about their winter break, or just redecorate your classroom with student—and your—contributions.
4) YouTube Binge
One second you’re watching a video of a cat trying to attack a paper towel roll, and three hours later you’re knee deep in giggling babies eating cake. Plug in your laptop and go where the Internet wind takes you. Getting in some laughs can help reduce your stress, and give you a few gems to share with your students when you need to grab their attention. There’s no easier way to refocus a chaotic room than to say, “Guys, you have to see this video of this pug jumping up the stairs.”
5) Plan Your Summer
Not a winter bunny and missing the sun? Itching to get out of the house but have nowhere to go? Start thinking about summer. Summer is a chance for you to have the experiences you’ll be sharing with your students when they try and get you off track of the day’s agenda. Your students need to know that there is more in the world than flopping on the couch with cell phone in hand, and you can be their entry point into truly experiencing the world. If you’re on a budget—and what teacher isn’t—look into camping at your local state park, attending a music festival of your favorite jams, or taking a class at a nearby community college.