How to Survive December and Actually Teach!
If ever there was a month filled with activities and crafts galore, it is December! If we’re not making ornaments for the classroom tree, then we’re decorating the classroom door with glitter and flashing lights or turning the hallway into a winter wonderland. Every day, we have to come up with original antics for our classroom Elf on the Shelf to get into so that our students will make good choices and behave. We read Christmas books daily and have the kids complete one cute craftivity after another that we saw on Pinterest or Facebook or TpT. We bounce from one “fun” activity to the next – we go on field trips to see the Nutcracker, attend holiday choir concerts for every grade level, transform into Whos for Grinch Day, decorate gingerbread houses, participate in ugly Christmas sweater contests, buy gifts for Secret Santas, dress in pajamas and make hot cocoa for Polar Express Day, the list goes on and on. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it is easy to lose sight of what’s important, and that’s making memories with your students and teaching – yes, TEACHING!
Teaching in December almost seems an impossible task. We’re being pulled in multiple directions and finding moments to teach is tricky. We learn quickly that our usual lesson plans are useless in December. Instead, we have to remember to be flexible and plan short activities to review content we’ve taught previously for when we find ourselves with a few moments to spare in the classroom. And no matter how difficult it is, we can’t let ourselves be tempted to fill those moments with review worksheet after worksheet, even if they are Christmas themed. Instead, we need to focus on spending those rare moments to review content in meaningful ways.
Our favorite things to make sure we get to every day so that our students don’t lose everything we taught them from August through November are daily reviews and task cards that can be used in small groups, centers, Scoot, Be the Teacher, Jeopardy, and so much more. With a flexible December schedule, these activities can be completed at any time during the day and can be paused at a moment's notice and completed later in the day or week if need be. And what’s even better, they involve no glitter, sequins, or fake snow! Win win!
Don’t let yourself get too caught up with “language arts and crafts” or keeping up with the teacher in the room next door. You will wear yourself out in record time. Doing all the cute things doesn’t make you a better teacher. Tell yourself this daily if necessary. Prepare a repertoire of short meaningful review activities and spend the remaining time you have bonding with your students during this special time of the year. You have a well-deserved break just around the corner! And remember, if you can survive and teach in December, you can do just about anything!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!!