Does your work stop because the holidays are approaching? Of course not. So why should it stop for our students?

It’s always amazing to me how quickly our perspectives and attitudes can change. Nearing the end of first quarter this year, I remember looking at the calendar with two thoughts: 1.) where in the world did first quarter go? and 2.) this year is going to absolutely fly by! Fast-forward to the week before winter break, and I can assure you, my attitude was quite different. If you had checked in with me on any day of last week, you would have heard things like, “This week is taking forever!” or “Is it Friday, yet?” Many of the conversations between adults in the building were similar.

If that’s how the adults in the building are feeling just before break, how can we expect our students to feel any different? Is it fair to expect full attention or engagement out of them during that time when I am struggling to make it to the end of the week, myself? It is so important for me to remind myself that we’re all in this together and that they are just as human as I am. So how do we find a healthy balance between work and play?

I think the holidays bring a certain amount of pressure that can be just as harmful as it is meant to be helpful. There are stresses that come along with scheduling gatherings and preparing for said gatherings with menus and gifts, not to mention the push to tackle that new year’s resolution. Of course, the end of a year offers what seems to be the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year and to set goals for the year ahead, but I find that for myself and many around me, we often end up setting unrealistic or unsustainable goals. Then we fall short, we end up feeling bad about it, and we resort to the ways of the past anyway.

I think the best way for new year’s resolutions to be successful is to make them part of your life at all times of the year – not just the beginning. In order to do that, we have to find ways to balance. And in order to do that, we need to make them meaningful but manageable.

Instead of planning to exercise 5 days a week, start with two or even one. Ease yourself into it until it becomes routine. Then add on if you feel the need. Instead of quitting smoking altogether, start by reducing the amount by one or two a day. Allow yourself the daily win you need to do be able to do it again tomorrow. Instead of holding back on all frivolous purchases in an attempt to save money this year, put a few bucks aside with each paycheck. Give yourself the freedom to splurge here and there while remaining disciplined and in control.

It’s the same in the classroom. The expectation shouldn’t change when the holidays are approaching, so maybe the expectation throughout the rest of the year is what needs to change. Maybe there needs to be a better balance of work and play on a more regular basis. In 2019, I hope to find ways to bring in even more opportunities for my students and I to play together, to laugh together, and to connect with one another.

We could all use some balance in our lives. So let’s use this time to reflect on 2018 and to find ways to sneak things in here and there throughout the next year. And as I told my students before we parted for winter break, I hope you have time this holiday season to have some fun, get some rest, spend some time with people you love, and find ways to sneak in some productivity, as well. Happy holidays!

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PS – Thank you, AGAIN, to all of our donors for our brand new iPads! They were the perfect gift for our 8th graders on our last day before winter break!


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