Tidbits for Teachers are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to teachers in all settings. I hope to give you a shot in the arm and remind you why you chose this career in the first place.
During holidays students are wound tighter than usual. The anticipation of Christmas takes precedence over all other pursuits. Christmas lists dance in their heads, future travels to see family cause excitement to bubble up and out, and purchasing presents reminds them of their own pile under the tree. Is it any wonder they have trouble focusing on their studies? Then there are the increased discipline referrals. With the heightened emotions and anticipation there can’t help but be more outbursts as kids lose the ability to reign it in. Self-control is fleeting, especially for those students who come from poverty. They know there will not be presents under the tree…if they even have a tree. It is easier to have outbursts than it is to recognize the pain underneath the fury. The gap between those children who have so much and those who have nothing seems wider during these days. Put them all together in a classroom and it makes for an interesting couple of weeks for teachers. Survival is the main order of business. Attempting to teach in such an environment is not for the faint of heart. It would be easier just to write off these days as the Christmas gap. But that would be the easy way.
Instead, creativity is the order of the day. Tying content to Christmas is the only chance teachers have to make an impact. The days are not wasted that way, they are transformed into learning opportunities incognito. How? It requires stretching outside your comfort zone. And more importantly it requires flexibility. My favorite saying to the children is “Flexibility is the key to learning!” You can use it anytime in the year, but these weeks it is truly a motto to live by. When you have concerts to go to, or Santa’s workshop, or any number of other seasonal interruptions to the instructional day, the key is not getting bent out of shape…just go with it. Create lessons that are easily interruptible and quick to pick back up, when you get back from wherever it is you have to go. It is also important to remember what you are doing is making a difference in the lives of the kids you teach. Truly. Do not forget that little fact in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. You may be the only Christmas some kids have. A smile and a hug can go a long way to soothe and calm the spirit of a child in turmoil. Including them in activities makes them feel welcome in ways they may not have known before. You are the key to building a classroom family that includes all the treasures who have arrived in your classroom for this year. After all, family is what Christmas is all about.