When I first started blogging, one of the first bloggers who I found was Pat Hensley from Successful Teaching. She’s also known as Loony Hiker. You can follow her on Twitter using her handle:@loonyhiker. I was so inspired by her posts and her desire to help new teachers be successful that she was one of the first teachers who I asked to be on The Amazing Teacher Podcast. I was thrilled when Pat agreed to write a guest post here on SITC. In this post, Pat shares some great advice on how to survive the Winter slump. Thank you Pat!
Being a teacher in January is really hard. It is after a long holiday and the next big holiday seems a long way away. Most kids haven’t had a lot of structure in their lives during the holiday. Many of them have had an abundance of sugar, little sleep, and been over stimulated with food, visitors, games and many other things. It will be hard to get students back into a routine again. As a teacher, I often felt the same way. This is the time I usually get new students because many parents would wait until after the holidays to move to a new location. In older grades, it may be the start of a new semester too. Let’s face it. January is a tough month.
Here are some suggestions that may help teachers survive January:
Post the routine on the board. If you don’t have one, now would be a good time to develop one. It really settles students when they know what to expect next.
Review important rules of the class. Yes, you went over them before Christmas. Yes, they knew them before. It is okay to review and reemphasize them again. Students need to know their boundaries and it helps them to know that you are still being consistent and fair about the rules.
Take time to talk to students about how they are feeling. Many students feel unsettled during this month. Maybe it is the bad weather or the lack of sunlight. It might be the stress of after the holidays. This is usually the time that many families have financial troubles so be sensitive to what students may be going through.
Do something different one day (but tell them ahead of time). Maybe have mini topics and let them work in groups to learn about these topics. Let them have input about what mini topics they will study (with your approval). Have them do a short presentation about what they learning. This should only take one or two days.
Find little things to be positive about. It is easy to find things to be negative about but really push yourself and your students to take note of the positive things that are going on.
Praise your students for the little things. This would be a good time to write little notes on post it notes to them saying you noticed they did something good. Or it might be a good time to call parents and say something positive about their child.
This is a great time to do random acts of kindness. Encourage students to do this also. Have them come up with suggestions for things they could do. Maybe do this for a week and at the end of the week, come together and discuss how this made them feel. These little things can make a difference during this time. It lifts their spirits and it will lift your own too.
What things do you do to make January easier for yourself and your students? Please share.