How can we protect our wellbeing in the run up to Christmas?
The Christmas break is typically one where all members of teaching staff breathe a HUGE sigh of relief for another period of respite! The time of festive cheer presents a huge opportunity to put the brakes on our wheels that have been spinning relentlessly since September!
End of term wellbeing checklist
Our mission to make a positive difference to our learners requires an occasional pit-stop for our own sanity! We need time to reflect, with the view of returning to work rejuvenated and with replenished “toolkits” for improved teaching practice. So, he are my top 6 tips to promote wellbeing for ensuring our break is a peaceful yet purposeful one:
1. Put student-strategies in motion before the break
You don’t want the same patterns of lateness or non-submitted homework to resurface in the new term. If we fail to solve these existing problems, then are we not to blame if we have not planned resolutions to curtail these problems?
2. End of term phone calls
Make those all-important phone calls to parents, guardians or carers that you have been putting off. Start with some positive calls about learners that have made significant learning or behavioural improvements. Keep them in the loop! They will appreciate your efforts to help facilitate positive changes.
Reinforcing goals for learners still failing to meet your expectations will allow time for them to think over the impending break and you will start the New Year with clear actions in place.
3. Psyche yourself up to mark… and execute!
The painful glitch in most teacher’s lives is, of course, the necessity to mark the work of our cherished learners.
Set yourself a Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time marking-schedule to help you structure what to mark and when, rather than feeling the pressure of rushing frantically to get it all done, just days before the return to work. Check out the ‘Mark’ chapter from ‘Mark. Plan. Teach.‘ for some great advice.
4. Plan for the first teaching week back
Plan your lesson delivery, organise room bookings and track grades before the year is out. Tracking grades before the holiday period paint a true reflection of learner progress and can inform planning for the January to do list. This will enable you to relax more during the break, knowing you are organised like clockwork for the first week back.
Update schemes of work and remind learners of work to submit on the returning week. Doing this should create a more stable mind on your part and sets the learners clear expectations for the New Year.
5. Invade your school library!
Spend purposeful time in your school library before the holidays and get your hands on pedagogical resources to enhance your teaching in the new term.
Take a few ideas from each resource and decide exactly when you will apply these to your teaching. ‘Motivating Unwilling Learners in Further Education’ (Wallace, 2017) may shed some light on solving common blunders in our teaching. ‘Teach Like a Champion 2.0’ could give your teaching the gear-shift you need to start the new year?
Failing to apply strategies in a clear and consistent manner is the downfall of many, so we must take steps to reverse this in the New Year!
6. Clear desk clutter
Clearing desk clutter before you leave for the Christmas break will require you to be ruthless. Any paperwork that will not be used in the following year, needs to be escorted unapologetically to the recycle bin or shredder for a permanent goodbye!
Planning for order is even more plausible when we have extended breaks away from work, without the pressures of lessons looming the following day. When our wellbeing is at its peak our teaching is more equipped to be steered in the same direction. Our wellness and our happiness come first.
We must take full advantage to cement our teaching pedigree and reassert high standards during the time off. We can then be focused towards recapturing best practice to set loose on our learners in the New Year! Happy Christmas everyone!