As prepared as we may feel at some times of the year, there are certain other months that come as if out of nowhere (we’re looking at you, December!).
The end of the year is famously one such time: emotions run high (from students and teachers alike) as we juggle learning goals, family commitments, and the temptation to create reams of New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes, a little bit of planning is all it takes to be organized and ready for the end of the year. Here are seven ways to feel on top of things during the holiday season.
1. Make a list and check it twice
Note down everything (big and small) you need to do to get yourself out of class and into vacation mode. The kicker? To avoid rushing, do this two weeks out from the end of the semester. That way, you’ll have ample time to act on your “must-dos” before they becomes “should have dones”. If, after making your list, you’re overwhelmed by long it is, whittle it down day by day to a maximum of three tasks.
2. Do a physical cleanout
Check all your teaching supplies and recycle/throw away those that no longer work or serve you: think papers that have been used on both sides, dried out whiteboard markers, and old pencil stubs. Then comes the fun part: Making a list of what you will need to start the year again and take advantage of sales to stock up on new supplies!
3. Do a digital cleanout
Urgh, this one always seems a little more taxing—but is more than worth it in the end. Go through your saved supplies on your laptop or computer, and file away/upload to the cloud those you’ll use again. If you’ve downloaded materials that you have never used, or can no longer remember why you saved in the first place, consider deleting them. Even though you “may” use them one day, the great thing about the internet is it’s easy to find material again—and in the meanwhile, their hogging up e-space isn’t always great for the mind.
4. Deal with paperwork
Do you have master copies, handouts, and other papers piling up on your desk? Nip them in the bud by blocking off an afternoon to decide which to throw or file. While you’re at it, resolve to deal with the paperwork monster on a daily basis next year: Just two minutes a day will mean you’ll never have this pile up again.
5. Prepare the first week back
Be kind to your future self by leaving detailed lesson plans (including handouts and materials) prepped and organized for that first week when your brain is still foggy and on vacation mode. You will thank yourself a thousand times over!
6. Keep well
Yes, it’s a classic ’cause it’s true. Of course, while should do this all through the year, it’s quite common to find certain healthy practices have gone out the window as the year comes to an end. So, during the crazy months, aim to make yourself simple, healthy meals with seasonal produce (think pumped up salads or hearty stews, depending on where you live) and complement that with as much movement (stretching, walking, biking, swimming) as you can fit into your day.
7. Plan a treat
Whether it’s taking your students on a field trip, having a chocolate appreciation lesson (sure, that’s a thing!), organizing a potluck Christmas dinner with colleagues, going to a mid-week movie, or blissfully doing nothing for an evening—plan a mini treat for yourself to ease some of the craziness of these holiday weeks. What could be better?