Finding Time for the Holidays (as a Busy Teacher)

Finding Time for the Holidays (as a Busy Teacher)
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Or is it? 

For many of us, this can be the most hectic time of all with report cards, student projects, holiday assemblies, mountains of grading...it seems there is more to do than ever come each December! And just at the time you are ready to enjoy the season with your friends and family.

While there is no simple way to get through all of the chaos, there are a few small things I have done over the years to help ease my holiday schedule...and I truly hope these ideas and resources will be of some help to you during this season as well!

 Work-Free Weekends
This is something I have been working on for a couple of years now. And not just for the holiday season (though it will be a HUGE help with the stress level in the coming weeks). 

One of the hardest parts of teaching is the fact that our job is never truly done. It's very rare to feel "caught up" or ahead of the game (unless I am alone in this feeling!). Keeping this in mind, it has become increasingly important to take the time to relax when needed. 

For this reason, I have a schedule for each school night. On Monday through Thursday, I  plan ahead for the following week. Bit by bit, I map out our lessons and units. By Friday night, I am free to put away any work for the weekend (aside from any fun little project I might want to work on). 

I save my grading for school, planning for home. I set up a little schedule of what will be planned each night...

I plan the easier lessons/activities for early in the week (especially on those tiring Monday nights!) and keep the more intensive subjects separate (such as Math, then Reading and Writing). 

After dinner, I work on my lesson plans and get as much done as I possibly can. Some nights, this can be very hard...but the reward is a weekend free to relax and recharge. And this has truly made a difference in my teaching. I find I am able to come back ready for a new week of work. I also feel less like I am working around the clock, it's just those four nights of big planning.
I have a copy planning sheet above in Google Docs, in case you would like to use/modify it for your lesson planning:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gmORT0uszO9tfb665Yq5Y_6oZaqw6RZCYbsLyVnrwkw/copy
 (please click the image above for the link)

Tackling Report Cards
If you are on a trimester schedule, you may have report cards due during the holiday season like we do. It's such a hard time to have extra work, but I have found if I balance it out (much like my lesson planning schedule) I can get them done bit by bit. 

To do this, I break down the grading process over the course of two weeks. I tackle a particular subject each day. The same goes for those comments too (the most time-consuming part of all!). I will usually write about 4-5 comments a night (or during my planning period). 

Even though we enter our grades online, I like to keep a Google doc for student comments:

This allows me to see the comments for each of my students, at a glance on one sheet. Then I can just copy and paste the comments into our grading system. 

If you would like to use this template, please click the image below to make a copy for your drive:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rWSpvnvVgjK8y1BvprFrL3JWrEoAsBWOV4KptIACsow/copy

Making a List (or LOTS of lists!)
Santa isn't the only one who needs to make a list (and check it twice!). I find the more lists I make to keep track of everything, the better I am able to get it all done. If I know exactly what has been done, I waste far less time in searching for things and tracking down student work. I have a post all about this (Keeping Track of Everything With Checklists) and I will say this greatly reduces my stress during the holiday season, especially with all those projects and final pieces due:

I store all of my checklists in a book and I cannot tell you enough how much this keeps me on track, especially at this time of year! Please click the image below if you'd like to see more about this resource:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Instant-Checklists-1986258


I also have a set of holiday checklists, made just for this time of year. You can download them for free by clicking the image below:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Instant-Checklists-Holiday-Sampler-2181752

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you may be able to use some of these ideas to help you find some time to enjoy the holiday season!

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