The expectations of the winter holidays can be all consuming and overwhelming. It is a time where teachers want to make it really special for the children in their class and for their families at home.
This is one of the holidays that you really need to take time out from school and dedicate every second to the loveliness that hot chocolates and warm fires bring. The first term is incredibly long, with less sunlight and the change in weather playing its role in adding to the workday fatigue.
Thanking your future self
Preparing for what is to come after the holidays is the first step in the right direction to pure relaxation. With all the end of year festivities under way, make sure to schedule some time in each day to prepare for next term. You’ll want the first few weeks back all planned out for two reasons: firstly, so it’s not playing on your mind during the holidays, and secondly, so you are available for all that happens pastorally and incidentally within the first few days of the new term.
Getting everyone involved
Keep a close eye and be aware of the children in your care. The holiday period will mean something different to everyone. This is an exciting opportunity for you to really highlight different cultures and traditions. Turn this into an amazing PSHE lesson where they can collaborate in groups and research all the different types of celebrations that may happen during this time of year. A good excuse for a culture explosion of tasty new foods and colourful outfits for presentation day.
Supporting your students
Some children might not have favourable family dynamics and the thought of an extended time at home might be causing anxiety – know your children well enough to be able to put systems of support in place. Maybe a little journal to send home with them would be a good way for them to document their feelings if they need a space to share without being able to do it in person at school. Some children might also be feeling overwhelmed at the change in routine and normality that a school day brings. For those children, send home little notes about what the first day back will look like, their timetable and some blank planning paper so they can organise their thoughts and feel more in control of what coming back might look like.
Being in the moment
If there’s one bit of advice I could give for this time of the year: be present. Present in the excitement of the school holidays and your well-deserved break; present with all the people that fill your life with love and joy; present to enjoy what’s important to you at this a very special time of year. Whether it be friends, family, food or finding a quiet moment, allow yourself this time to rejuvenate before January.
About the author
Chantal Dos Santos
Chantal was a teacher for the past 17 years. Starting off in Primary education in the beginning of her career, then moving on to teaching maths and science. She has taught in South Africa, America and the UK. She was then Head of Science for a few years before becoming the Head of the Upper School at an independent boy’s prep school. Chantal heads up the ECT side of Eteach; looking at how we can attract graduates and then how we can work on supporting them throughout their 2-year induction period and ultimately supporting and guiding ECTs to retain them in the education sector.