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6 Strategies for Teachers to Recharge Over Winter Break

Winter break is quickly approaching! For kids, winter break means building forts in the living room, drinking hot chocolate, playing in the snow, (driving their parents crazy), and, most importantly, no school. It’s a time to relax, lose themselves in imagination, and spend time with their families. But winter break is a valuable time for teachers, too. Not only is it a VERY well-deserved break from intense workdays, but it’s also a great opportunity to sit back and reflect on what’s working, what’s not, and how to proceed into the second semester of the school year. To help educators make the best of their winter vacation, we’ve gathered 6 strategies for relaxing, recharging, and reflecting.

  1. Read educational blogs

Perhaps more so than any other group of professionals, teachers are amazingly dedicated bloggers. Educators are eager to share their experiences, resources, and learnings with their peers, and blogging is a great platform to create a world-wide community of teaching and learning. If you haven’t already, take some time to explore the many blogs written by a variety of teachers: administrators, principals, EL specialists, tech-savvy educators — the list goes on. Once you dive in, you’ll find a plethora of strategies to re-vamp your instruction into the second half of the school year. To start, check out our series of McGraw-Hill Education Guest Bloggers, all writers for The Art of Teaching. Here are a few more blogs that we love:

And — just for fun — after you’ve broadened your educational horizons, test your expertise with our quick, interactive quizzes:

2. Read children’s books!

We’ll send you occasional free tips, resources, and ideas from your classroom.

Children’s and Young Adult Literature are truly goldmines of powerful insight for educators. Diving into age-specific literature isn’t just beneficial for ELA or literacy teachers: it’s truly a fun, relaxing way to gain some varying perspectives of the particular struggles, questions, and experiences of a unique generation of young learners. It provides key insights that will inform any educational professional. While teacher blogs will broaden your understanding in terms of instructional strategies and theories, children’s literature will broaden your perspective in terms of the types of lives that your students are living: it will place you in their moment in time and in the spaces that they think, create, and interact. It will help you understand the types of stories they read, and, as an extension, the narratives that shape their understanding of their role in the world. Besides — as a genre, children’s and YA lit has a reputation for being exceptionally detailed and imaginative in world-creating and in storytelling — not a bad way to spend a snowy afternoon at home.

To get you started, check out this amazing list from of the best children’s books of 2016:

3. Experiment with new lesson plans and approaches

While break should be a time to relax, it’s also a time to get creative and think outside of the box: since you have more flexibility, set aside a bit of time over break — coffee with a colleague, an hour at your desk after an early morning run — to really get your creative juices flowing. Explore instructional avenues that you might not have even considered before, and get familiar with unfamiliar theories. For example, are you interested in learning more about the research behind powerful literacy instruction, and gathering some tools to recharge your own instruction? Download our Literacy is for Life eBook to discover the 7 “R”s of a high impact literacy plan, or read about one educator’s experience with Balanced Literacy to explore a teacher-centric approach:

4. Observe the children in your life

Whether or not you happen to be a parent yourself, the holidays often mean a lot of time spent with children, in your family and your community. As an educator, it could be professionally beneficial to be extra observant of children’s behaviors and interests while in an unstructured environment. Take these precious moments of holiday festivities and try to develop an awareness of what makes these kids excited, what kinds of games they’re playing, how they learn — while making cookies and wrapping gifts — and use these observations and learnings to inform your teaching when you return to the classroom.

5. Relax!

Reflect: What is that is that one hobby that you love to do but can never seem to find time for during the school year? Set aside some time — yes, actually schedule leisure time — to ensure that these opportunities for relaxing (whether it’s yoga, knitting, reading mystery novels, or playing video games) really happen. Don’t let this time slip through the cracks amidst all of your holiday obligations, either. You owe it to yourself to set aside that time and relax. Truly, one of the best things you can do for your students is to take care of yourself — to come back to school refreshed, recharged, and ready to address their most pressing learning needs.

6. Remember why you entered your profession

Sometimes, in the constant pressure and mounting obligations, it can be easy to forget just how important you are as an educator. Teachers aren’t always treated the way they should be, and it can be discouraging. So this winter break, take some time to remember and reflect upon your reasoning and motivation for entering the teaching profession in the first place. What did you want to change? On whom did you want to have an impact? Once you have it, make a list of three long-term, broad strategies and three short-term, specific strategies that will help you make that goal a reality into the following years.

At McGraw-Hill Education, we would like to say a special thank you to all of the teachers that work tirelessly to serve and empower young learners across the globe. We can’t wait to see the things you accomplish in 2017! For inspiration to get you started on a relaxing winter break, check out:

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Resources, ideas, and stories for PreK-12 educators. We focus on educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.

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