Taking care of yourself in December

Now that the hustle and bustle of progress reports is done and parent-teacher interview night is over, I am exhausted. I find this time of the year to be the longest stretch of the school year and these next four weeks to be the most demanding on me mentally and physically. Although my body and mind feel like they should be at home relaxing on my couch, I have four solid weeks of instruction to deliver, an AQ to complete and a Christmas concert to gear up for. There is no time to rest just yet! However, this is my eighth time through December at school and I have learned a few things along the way. Below are my survival tips for the next four weeks.

Survival Tip #1: Keep to your regular routine in class as much as possible. This is tough with concerts, sing along assemblies and parties in late December; however, kids get cranky and forgetful of the school rules when so many routines are disrupted. To limit the amount of negative interactions with your students, continue with normal Math lessons and guided reading circles throughout the month to mitigate all the changes happening.

Survival Tip#2: Continue your exercise routine as much as possible. Just like the kids, there are so many disruptions to our lives in December. I have multiple holiday parties that I am committed to attend, baking to do, and presents to buy. It is really easy to get overwhelmed at this time of year. However, no matter how busy I get, I drag myself to my swimming and spin classes this time of year as I always feel better when I am done. I also am a better partner and teacher when I have had one hour of a spin instructor yelling at me (I guess when you are trying your best just to keep your legs moving, you don’t have time to worry about anything else).

Survival Tip #3: Do assessments in class. This is a great time of year to have students do oral presentations, skits, or hands-on math activities in class to demonstrate their knowledge. Have your rubric/checkbric/criteria checklist etc. ready and mark them in the moment. This will encourage you to take home less marking and keep you fresher for student feedback during the day.

Survival Tip #4: Choose your battles. This tip really applies to every day of the school year but I really try to remind myself of this in December. Some students have a really hard time with the transition into the break. For students who are going home to a two-week holiday filled with fighting, substance abuse or neglect, this break can be really long and stressful. That anticipatory anxiety and stress can display itself in behaviour that is really challenging to deal with. Try your best to stay calm and choose your battles if the student’s behaviour is not impacting your ability to instruct the class. Talk to the student at a quiet moment to see if they need support.

Survival Tip #5: Attempt to eat right. I say attempt, as my mother-in-law’s sausage rolls and jam tarts always get me. However, weight gain, upset stomachs and crazy sugar crashes that are very prevalent this time of year are not great factors for running the marathon that is the last four weeks of December.

Ultimately, it is very important to take care of you in December. I know it may seem selfish, but you will have so much more to give to your students, family and friends. Good luck and have a great December!

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The Author

Tammy Axt

I am a music teacher at Red Willow Public School in the Peel District School Board. I love supporting students through the creative process and grooving to music! My interests include running and trying to learn how to ride a motorcycle.

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