3 Lists to Stop Holiday Teacher Stress
December. Full of fun and excitement, gift giving, poor nutrition, late nights, and extra classroom projects (with glitter). It’s great. It’s horrible (glitter in your belly button that is…)
The exhaustion is real.
The excitement is real.
The kids are crazy (for real.)
The teachers are tired (for really real.)
What's the solution to this holiday stress? It's simple and you are going to love it.
If Lists Are Good Enough For Santa There Good Enough For You
Here are 3 lists to ease that holiday stress so you can finish up the weeks ahead filled with joy and energy.
The goal is to step out of your classroom ready for Winter Break full of energy and ready to enjoy your “real” life.
Don't Get Overwhelmed... Make A List
We all know what’s coming up. Yet, most events in December sneak up on us. Let’s make it visual with the 3 list trick.
List 1-Upcoming Events
The first step is to get it all out on paper. Mind Dump It All. List all the projects, activities, special school events, and responsibilities, etc. Keeping it in your head drains your energy. It's a lot of work to keep event dates in your brain.
Free Up Your Brain
Free your brain from keeping track of every event that is coming up. This might include special events like program rehearsals, programs/performances, parties, gift making, secret Santa, teacher workroom treat sign up. Etc. AND any other teachery things that might be happening like observations, staff meetings, IEP Meetings, curriculum meetings, etc.
Make It Visual... for Everyone
Now plan the events on a calendar. Start with the events set in stone like classroom performances, rehearsals, class parties. Then fill in with flexible planning items like treat sign up, gift making, card making, etc.
Display the calendar where everyone can see it including the students. I found that even Kindergarteners will look at the calendar to reference once you’ve shown them each upcoming event. Cross off each event as it is completed. When students get crazy, refer to the list and reaffirm that their positive behavior is needed to accomplish the task at hand and all the upcoming tasks on the calendar.
Do you need a calendar? I’ve made this December calendar for you. Print it. Tape it together in the middle and laminate. Now you can edit it, and you can use it again next year. (No numbers so it can be used year after year.) Just click on the image above for your free download.
List 2 - A Materials List
The second list is of stuff you will need to have on hand. I’m the teacher that had her husband going to get 2 bags of cotton balls at 1:00 in the afternoon so that the kids could do a Santa project at 1:30. Panic, panic, panic,- grumpy husband. Not good.
I would display this list in the classroom as well.
Don't Hide It...Display IT
Well for one, have you seen a teacher desk in December… No, you haven’t because it's buried in a mountain of crapola. So if you put this list(s) up by the calendar, you aren’t going to lose it.
I make a materials list for each project. Then I can plan each project and day accordingly.
Ask For Stuff Using A List
I also have had moms and dads of students come in and say “What do you need for the holiday season?” Well, there it is for all to see. I have them initial by what they will provide, so I know who is bringing what. (Never erase any item on the list- Just cross it out) They buy it, not me. Yahooeeee. When it’s time to go to the store (or shop my house) I usually snap a picture of the list on my phone, and it becomes my shopping list.
Make your materials list right now in November and send out an SOS on materials needed to parents. Make a due date on the materials and watch the money-saving donations come rolling in.
Learn From My Mistake
One year I wrote all my lists on the board, and it was terrific….. Until…. Dun, dun, dun. I came into my classroom one morning to find someone was extra efficient and erased the entire board.
Nooooooooo. (Excuse me people I put “save” all over that beautiful list. At least I think I put save… Didn’t I put save????… We will never know because it’s gone forever!!!!!!) So to help you from a fate worse than death (AKA. an extra efficient room cleaner) I have created this cute little printable for you.
Print it up and use it for your planning.
I like to copy them and then cut them down the middle. Then there’s a separate list for each project. Click the image below to get your free list template.
List 3- Make a Teacher To-Do List
This is the list that is going to get you ready so that when you walk out the door to enjoy your Winter Break, you can leave it all behind and have a real break. It's the teacher to-do list. What do you need to get done so that you can walk in the door on the first few days back from winter break ready to go? Thank you notes for presents, lesson plans, copies, games, decor.
Here are some pro-tips on how to get it all done.
Divide and Conquer
Make a deal with another teacher. If they take your students for an hour, you will take their students for an hour.
Then plan for that hour as a super focused time. What is important? Can you get a mom volunteer or older student to come in and take down December Holiday stuff and put up January?
Or get your lesson plans done and materials pulled so you can have it ready to roll.
The Pre-Written Thank You
Write your thank yous before you get the gift. Write out a form on a word document or card. Leave space for the name and a short thank you to describe the gift. Then fill it in with the usual… “You are so thoughtful, and I am so glad you are my student. Have a great winter break, and I’ll see you next year for more awesome learning.”
Send The Gift Of Snail Mail
I do love to mail the thank yous. Kids never get real mail, and it’s really special. I’ve had students bring me their thank you to class and say, “You sent me this!!!” They are so intrigued by the concept of snail mail.
Get your room clean by giving everyone a job. It’s a little like the end of the year. No one wants to come back to a dirty room… Yuck…Now’s the time for some deep cleaning and those little elves (students) can help out. Even a bucket of warm water and dish soap can clean those tables up in a quick hurry. I’m always surprised how much students love to clean the room.
You Did It
By using a simple tool of a list, you are walking into your winter break stress-free and ready to have some fun.
You don’t have to write thank yous, create lesson plans, redecorate the classroom… It’s done, and you did it with minimal brain cells because you let the list do all the heavy lifting.
Click the Check Blue List image above to get your free download.
More About Lists and Stress Relief
Want more on how lists help you be stress-free? Head over to https://www.fastcompany.com/40470350/these-to-do-list-methods-will-help-you-finally-get-organized
for a fascinating post about organization and the to-do list.
Until Next Time
I hope you enjoy the beauty of the holidays. May it bring you joy and memories to last a life time.