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Winter Break is NOT a luxury. It IS a necessity. We all need this time to relax, rejuvenate, and celebrate with family and friends.. You NEED a break.
It is ESSENTIAL to take time to rest and play. You need to arrive back at school ready to go in a couple of weeks.
These tips were originally written as a series of Instagram posts with one tip posted each day of winter break. The days may not match up exactly with your holiday break or maybe you are not even reading this during a school break. But, the message is still the same.
Read on for 18 tips to help prevent teacher burnout.
1. Do NOT Do ANY School Related Work Until After Christmas
Focus on your family. Take time to celebrate, and relax. This is the best thing you can do now. Taking a break now benefits your students who you will see again in a few short weeks.
It’s your job to TAKE TIME OFF over break to prevent teacher burnout.
2. Make a Family Schedule
If you haven’t already done so, take a little time to create a holiday schedule. Take care of any last-minute details. Do NOT over-schedule.
Be sure to leave plenty of downtime. Prioritize but be flexible. Unexpected things can be the most fun! Leave yourself time to be spontaneous.
3. Participate in a Family Tradition Or Start a New One
Bake cookies, go caroling, go to a movie, go see Grandma, help serve food at a local shelter. Today is a great day to participate in a family tradition.
Don’t have a special family tradition? It’s time to start a new simple tradition. Consider one of the following.
- Get matching PJs. Be lazy and wear them all day long.
- Make a gingerbread house using graham crackers.
- Take a special evening to go see light displays.
- Watch a favorite holiday movie.
- Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
4. Enjoy Family and Friends
Enjoy your family and friends. First and foremost, you are a parent, a spouse, a daughter or a son, a sister or a brother, and always a friend.
Then, you are a teacher.
5. Have a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday
The Christmas Day tip is that there is no tip today. I have taken the day off and so should you.
Just relax and have FUN!
6. Plan Some Quiet Time
The days leading up to Christmas can seem like a whirlwind. Today, on the first day after Christmas, plan some quiet time for yourself and your family, especially if you have children at home.
Create some special quiet moments today.
7. Inventory and Schedule Tasks
Make a list of everything you need to do before school starts again. Prioritize your list and move things that can wait until school starts to the bottom.
Take a look at your schedule and write each task that must be done before school starts into your planner.
Be efficient and leave a lot of unplanned “white space”.
𝗗𝗼 𝗡𝗢𝗧 𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗯𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗸. Plan to have everything done one day prior to the end of your break. Lack of time and too much to do is the biggest source of stress. Do NOT leave everything to the last minute.
Is your classroom organized for the first day? You definitely do not want to walk into a mess. Organizing your room can be a family event. Play with your children on the school playground or in the gym after you are done.
8. Play a Game
Our family is getting several new games this year. (It is a good thing they don’t read my blog.) It doesn’t matter what games you play – Candyland, Yetti in My Spaghetti, Monopoly, 5 Crowns, WordSpiel, Uno, or even Hide and Seek.
Play together, have fun, and make memories.
9. Get Outside and Move!
This year the weather is supposed to be uncharacteristically warm for us. There will be no building snowmen today. It doesn’t matter if you are building a snowman, walking on the beach (or around the block), or hiking in the woods. Get outside, enjoy the outdoors, and get some exercise.
If all else fails and your weather just won’t cooperate, find a place to move around inside. Go walk at a mall or other large building. Or, go to a local gym and run and play.
Even more fun, call a few teacher friends and meet up at the school gym. Exercise is a key element to help prevent teacher burnout. Just move!
10. Look for Joy Inside Your Classroom and All Around You
Make it a point to “Look for Joy” today. You are not allowed to complain even once. If you have a complaining thought, turn it around into something to be grateful for.
Look for Joy!
11. Start the New Year Fresh
Happy New Year’s Eve! The past year has been hard. But, no matter what the year has held for you, commit to starting fresh.
Work to build on successes and strengthen any weaknesses. Do NOT dwell on “failures” of the past. It’s only a failure if you didn’t learn something from the experience.
My favorite quote of ALL time is by Maya Angelou. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
Start fresh and do better, Friends.
12. Take Down Decorations or NOT
Happy New Year! It is NOT a big deal if all your decorations are not down and boxed up by the end of the day. We have a community performance which is going to take a lot of time. That means our tree will not come down until the next weekend and that’s ok.
Prioritize. Have you kept up with your school work? If you have been following each of our Teacher Burnout Holiday Tips, you will remember that we planned and scheduled your school work into your calendar. If you have gotten a little behind, catch up today. But, remember, NO SCHOOL work on the day before classes resume.
So, take down and put away whatever decorations you want and have time for. Otherwise, enjoy them for a while longer. That’s my plan.
13. Simplify and Find Ways to Be More Efficient
Take a few minutes today to brainstorm ways you can streamline your routines and be more efficient at home and at school and at home. The time you spend today will ultimately save you time.
Simple, efficient, effective routines help to uncomplicate your life.
Efficient School Routines
Do you have monthly and yearly outlines of what you need to accomplish in your classroom? Do you batch routine tasks? Can you delegate some simple routine tasks to volunteers, student helpers, or family members? Are your bulletin boards planned out? Do you have artistic students that would enjoy helping? YOU do not have to do it all.
Elementary Music Teachers download these FREE Elementary Music Planning Charts to help plan out the remainder of your school year.
Efficient Home Routines
Would it help you to cook meals on the weekend and reheat during the week? Do you need to find more easy slow cooker recipes so supper is already done when you get home? Do you need to make a weekly menu and go to the store once a week instead of running by every day? Do you need to work out carpooling arrangements to help get your kids to music rehearsals or sports practices?
Remember, this brainstorming is supposed to help things run smoother for you not create more work. The words of the day are SIMPLE, EFFECTIVE, and EFFICIENT.
14. Relax All by Yourself
Set aside a little time just for yourself today. Read a book, take a long bath, take a walk, or watch a show you have been wanting to see. This can be anything you want to do that is quiet and relaxing.
Very soon, there will be MANY students all needing your attention. Relax a bit today.
In tip # 7, you scheduled your schoolwork throughout your break. Keep up with it. You want to be completely done tomorrow. Procrastination fuels teacher burnout. No procrastination allowed.
And, remember NO school work on the last day of break.
15. Read Just for FUN
You might have chosen to do some reading yesterday when you were relaxing by yourself. But, we know that reading just for fun is one of the things that often gets pushed aside for teachers.
If you have preschool or elementary-age children, you are probably already reading to them every day and it is FUN! Save time for a little extra reading today, either by yourself or with the kids. You might even want to take a trip to the library.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are following my Teacher Burnout Holiday Tip Schedule, TODAY is the last day for any school work. You want to be completely done with all your schoolwork by the end of the day.
16. Be Grateful for ALL of Your Students
Take a few minutes to be grateful for ALL of your students today. Be grateful that YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE in their lives.
Today is about remembering how you really do make a difference and strengthening and mentally preparing yourself for the semester to come.
Lay out your clothes and make your lunch. You are back on duty tomorrow and a lot of impressionable young people are counting on you.
17. Bonus Tip
During the school year, enjoy the little things – a new planner and pens, a handmade card from a student, a sunrise or sunset, snuggling under a warm blanket, listening to music while you make supper, or countless tiny moments throughout your day.
Enjoy the simple things and be grateful. You will be happier if you do.
18. Welcome Back, It’s Show Time!
Welcome back! You’re on stage. It’s time to SMILE, dig down deep, and rise to the occasion. Show your students that you missed them over break and make them feel welcomed and VALUED.
You are the most important factor in the success of your classroom.
Prevent Teacher Burnout
Teaching is a tough job! There is no doubt about it. But, you can do it. You can prevent teacher burnout and have a long, rewarding teaching career. But you have to be vigilant. Burnout sneaks up on you. Take care of yourselves and hang in there, friends.
YOU really do make a difference.
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Meet the Author
Terri Lloyd is a former elementary music teacher with over 25 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Science in Education, and a Technology Certificate in Instructional Design.
She is currently active in music education through blogging, workshops, and curriculum development. She serves on the music staff at her church and volunteers for an after-school children’s program. Terri is an active musician in the community, performing in a local Big Band, pit orchestras, and various events.