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Teacher Tip – Time to Get Caught Up and Enjoy Your Break!

Your winter break from school is just around the corner! Excitement is high, the to-do list is long, the days are busy, and there is much to do before your break. If you are like me, you want to rest during your well-deserved break and to enjoy your time with family and friends. However, I found there were still so many things I wanted to get done at school, such as papers to grade, files to organize, and resources I want to go through that have been piling up. Years ago in my teaching career I came up with a strategy that worked great for me that I would like to pass on to you for your consideration.

On the last day of break, I would stay late at school to complete any tasks that I wanted to get done. I usually stayed at school until about 9 p.m. and let the custodians know I was in the building.  I typically found that the school cleared out pretty quick by the students and staff alike. I rolled up my sleeves, put on my tennis shoes and got down to work! My objective was to grade all papers and have them ready for handing back on the students first day back, clean and disinfect my class rooms, have my lessons all set to go and all files in order. My goal was to be prepared for the New Year and NOT to haul any school work home during my break. I wanted to enjoy my break without the irritating reminder that I had school work to do. My time off was more relaxing and enjoyable because I knew that my classrooms were prepared, organized and sparkling.

Knowing that I was staying late on that last day also encouraged me to get things done during that last school week. Students would volunteer to come in during their study times to help me clean, take down and put up new bulletin boards/showcases and wash the white boards. I graded and handed back the papers that I could and organized other items along the way. Even though that last day was going to be a long day, I was geared up for it because I knew the end results would be satisfying and that I immediately had some time off. I had learned from personal experience that I hated lugging school work home. I felt like a martyr if I did the work or worse, I always knew in the back of my mind that I had work to do. If I never found the time or energy to do the work or rationalized that I deserved the time off so I chose not to do it, I would feel mad at myself when I would haul the ungraded work back to school and felt behind on my work load. Staying late one day, provided me with opportunity to thoroughly enjoy my time off without any of this stress!

Here are some organization tips you might find helpful.

  • Store your classroom papers in a hanging file or plastic stack drawers on. Each class should have a file or drawer is for the work turned in and one for the graded and recorded work that is ready to be handed back to students. Label each file and drawer.
  • Keep all of your vendor ads and magazines in one place so when you are ready to look for items that are in one location.
  • Clean off table tops with 409 cleaner. It takes off pencil so easily. Add some bleach to water and disinfect all surfaces.
  • Keep your handouts/worksheets in hanging files so they are easier to find. Arrange the files in the order of the class calendar. Place a manila file folder in each hanging file and place your master copy in the manila file so it won’t get handed out or lost.
  • Clear your desk of all clutter and wash off your desk, sanitize your computer and phone.
  • About 5:30 (before dinner rush) I would go to a restaurant close to the school and had dinner while I graded papers. I would head back to school, nourished and the work all graded.
  • If no one will be using your class room during the break, write your class agendas on the board. If you have something you have to remember when you get back, write yourself on the white board too.

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing and joyous break! Thanks for all of the hard work you do every day to educate our students and to make their lives more efficient, effective and enjoyable. Merry Christmas!

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