The school year tends to ebb and flow. There is the excitement and optimism leading into that first test. The joy or maybe disappointment in the results (you'll do even better next time)! Then the first grading period ends and you begin to see your weaknesses and where your students struggle. The second grading period you have the energy to tackle your classroom-- you are going to do it better.
However the third six weeks strikes and life gets slightly more exhausting. You hit a slump of sorts. You are exhausted. It seems like nothing you do will get you caught up on the sleep you are missing and the work you have to do. The students are stir crazy and their minds are on the holidays.
Then you hit the November/December slump. That time when kids are kind of in school but their minds are other places. This is the time when our patience is tried the most and the students need it the most.
Tips for Making it Through:
1. Stay away from negativity.
This is the time of year when kids are at their stir craziest/laziest. Complaining about it won't change it. Try to come up with ways to encourage and empower your students! Use this as a challenge!
2. Try to encourage kids to get their make up done earlier rather than later.
A lot of students are gone in the days leading to Christmas Break and Thanksgiving break. Many teachers use this as a point to complain about-- don't, it won't change the situation. Offer opportunities for students to get their work done early and encourage them to be responsible about it.
3. Create memorable moments for your kids.
As this is the end of their first semester with you there is a chance that you may not have some of them next semester. Use this time with purpose-- on those last days, give them things of VALUE to do.
4. Don't resign yourself to a Movie day.
The further into my career I get the less purpose/more frustration I feel with movie days. I could be playing content games with my students or reviewing them and testing them to see what they know and what they don't know. Kids like the stimulation-- especially when everybody else is giving them movie days.
5. Find AT LEAST one thing to look forward to with every class.
As the kids get stir crazy they likewise begin to get a little too comfortable in the classroom and thereby pushing/crossing boundaries within the classroom. Take this time to find ways to enjoy/love them.
6. On your break-- TAKE A BREAK.
Thanksgiving break can be overwhelming for people. Family comes in, shopping looms, holiday decorations demand to be put up. We can get busy with it and the week passes by before it seems like we've had any time off at all. Take at least an hour or two out of your day to "decompress". In my mind "decompress" means to sit down with a book and get inside my head for an hour. Be quiet let your brain settle.
7. Enjoy your job.
Take time out of your day to soak in your blessings. The VIPS that bring treats, the co-workers that make an extra effort to give back to the staff, sweet things students say, and the teachers you work with that make your job doable.
I hope this is helpful! Happy teaching!