Find out how to stay cheerful in those long months before the holidays.
Call it the November lull or the midsemester blues. No matter what the name, all teachers feel it around this time of year.
The excitement of the new school year has faded and now reality has set in. You will be dealing with that one troublesome student until May. The lesson sequence you thought would be perfect had a few flaws. And there is a long stretch of school days from now until winter break.
Don’t despair. Even veteran teachers can struggle if they don’t make a conscious effort to stay positive at this time of year.
Here are a few tips for inside the classroom — and during your free time.
1. Do something different — even a bit crazy! — with your class.
While kids thrive on routine, they also benefit from switching it up. Try changing your daily order of activities. Or if you teach a single subject, trade classes with another teacher for a day. Have the history teacher talk to your math class about the origin of numbers. Or have the art teacher wow your science students with a presentation on nature art.
2. Move your class outside the room.
Check first with the librarian or cafeteria manager and, if it’s OK, teach there for an hour or so. Or build a lesson that can be taught near playground swings or the campus garden. You and your students will appreciate the change in scenery.
3. Spring clean in the fall.
Part of why you are feeling low is that the bookshelves are messy, papers are stacked everywhere, and things seem a bit grimy. Set aside time one day and put the kids to work. First, they should organize their own belongings and then go to work on the classroom. Everyone will feel better.
4. Leave early once in a while.
If you have been staying after hours to plan and grade, this is a good time to start leaving early once a week. See a film or meet a friend for coffee. But be careful. If you spend time with teachers after hours, limit the shop talk. Chat about books, movies, your plans for winter break … basically anything other than teaching! (You need a break, after all.)
5. Take a day trip or weekend away.
Nothing puts problems in perspective better than a road trip. Go alone or take along a supportive friend or family member. Remember, it’s only autumn once a year. We live in Arizona for a reason, and this is it! Enjoy the nice temperatures up north with a good book and a hot coffee.
6. Remember: This too shall pass.
Keep in mind that the midsemester blues are a natural response to the excitement of the new school year fading away. Veteran teachers say with the right coping strategies, a better attitude and sense of rejuvenation is around the corner.