Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Recharge and Unplug, A Teacher's Guide To School Breaks



Winter break, fall break, spring break, or whatever breakin’ electric buggaloo you’ve got coming up —make sure to make it your own.  There’s nothing more exciting than coming home and realizing you have ZERO teaching to do for the next week or so.  No planning meetings or PLCs or bus duty in negative degrees. Just a bunch of days that you get to fill. For many of us they’re already planned out but you need to remember to take a couple of days for yourself.  

Call it recharging or unplugging (I even put those in the titles) or whatever cool buzzword they got for it (right, bae?). Just make it your own. I’ve spent a little time and put together some of my favorite past times that I’ve found effective.
Organize Your Classroom Before You Leave For Break
Yes, you want to fly out the door when that bell rings. Just wait. Clean up your room, throw away all those piles of papers (that will just get tossed when you get back), and get your room in working order for your return. This little prep work means you’re coming back on a clean slate.

Grab A Couple of Older Books from the School Library
Lately, I’ve found myself going back to some of the older novels I read as a kid. They’re not long reads and they still hold up. Sure, we wanna read all the brand new stuff, but those personal classics that made us fall in love with reading is where it’s really at.  Besides, it's a great chance for you to reintroduce them into your classroom once you get back. This break I’m going back to read,  How To Eat Fried Worms.



Take a Day and Binge Watch Something…Anything
I’m not a huge TV-watcher. In fact, most shows I watch are usually used in conjunction with running on the treadmill. BUT every break, I take at least one day and binge on something. This also means I don’t have the computer in front of me too. A binge day towards the back-half of a break is a thing of beauty.

This is not easy for me. I don’t like to sit and watch TV all day. Yet, the last few times Ive done it I’ve felt a little better because I took time for myself to do absolutely nothing. This includes unplugging from my phone and computer and just veg out.

If you watch all three Lord of the Ring Extended Versions you’ve got about 13 hours of couch time.

Dogfood A Project You Want Your Students to Do
What does that even mean? Dogfooding is when you test out a product/resource/project yourself. So if you’ve got a project your want your students to do, take a day and do it yourself. Figure out what works well, what doesn’t, and understand the issues students will face. 

Find a Teacher Blogger and Read All Their Work
Find a blogger you like and go read all their work (or as much as you can). With social media this isn’t always easy, so concentrate on staying with that single author. I might even suggest going through this blog and saving the links for all the ideas you're going to want to try and use in the classroom. 

Research an Idea or Topic You Really Want to Teach
Spend a day on Pinterest or blogs and find an idea that captures your attention and research the heck out of it.  Just you, a large cup of a warm caffeinated beverage, and exploration time.  It seems simple but we never really have time to do it.  It’s totally worth it.

Go To School
Seriously. Take a morning or afternoon or day and go to school when no one is around.  Then do a little work: clean, purge, redesign your classroom, reflect. This works better during winter break with more time off.

Don’t Check School Email
Just Don’t.

See What’s New At the One Spot
Target is always an option.

Exercise
Or think about exercising and instead go grab a gigantic coffee.

Put Together a LEGO set
You should do this. Get yourself a set and put it together.  Make your mind work. Even if you won't play with it (even though you'll want to) you can take it up to school for your classroom.

If LEGOS aren't you're thing, go get a puzzle.

Visit A Park
Maybe you've got a National Park close by or a state one, just go find one and go check it out. Parks are awesome.

Grade Papers
Just kidding. This is the one thing I would never do.

Get A Dog
Just remember that you can’t take it back once break is over. 

Do Something Artistic or Creative
Seriously, you’ll surprise yourself and love the results.  Find a class and take a friend.

Do a Double Feature at the Movie Theater
Winter is typically the best time for this because all the movies up for awards are pushed out then. Do it. Just be careful with the popcorn, lots of calories.

Buy A Cake For Yourself
No regrets. No remorse. Besides, you've got a whole week to eat it.

Give Back
Find a charity or organization that you'd like to help.  Call them up and see if they need anything.  Our local animal shelter loves getting homemade cat toys that my daughter's girl scout troop makes.   Or take a box of cookies up to a fire department or police station. Yes, just like you see in the movies.   

Don't Sleep the Day Away
Unless you really want to, then it's cool.

Practice Your Teacher Voice in the Middle of a  Grocery Store.
Just for fun.

Listen to Yourself
When in doubt, listen to yourself and follow your arrow.




You can find more from me at Digital: Divide & Conquer where I tackle project based learning, technology, and the space in between.  BUT if you're looking for me over a school break I'll be running, practicing my poor piano skills, and reminding my kids to turn off the lights in their rooms.



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