Gemma is giving her festive tips for the season’s festivities.
Awwww! Christmas. My favourite time of the year and in schools, it’s magical:
1) Sitting in the staff room, eating mince pies and Quality Street, just because you can.
2) Watching a Christmas DVD with your class without an ounce of guilt.
3) Spending time with your colleagues saying, “Where has this year gone? Doesn’t it fly? What are your plans for next year?”
4) Playing party games with your class, whilst you all show off your Christmas jumpers
5) Listening to those classic Christmas tunes and thinking you really can sing just as well as Mariah.
6) Watching the children’s faces when they come to school and see the ‘Elves’ have redecorated with tinsel and baubles. Awwww! Joyful.
Or at least, that’s how it should be. For some of us, Christmas, especially the build up in schools, can feel like a mad frenzy and the reality is much more like:
1) No chance to sit in the staff room because you’ve still got end of term assessments to mark and you still can’t find the tea towels for the shepherds for the Christmas production.
2) Kids scrapping on the carpet because they’ve seen ‘The Muppet’s Christmas Carol’ a dozen times and they are absolutely sick of it.
3) Thinking, “Where has this year gone and what have I actually achieved? I really don’t know! Can’t even bring myself to think about next year!”
4) Getting sweaty in your Christmas jumper, your antlers are hurting your head and another child has kicked off because they have lost at musical chairs.
5) If you hear that song by ‘Wizzard’ one more time, you think you may just have a melt down yourself.
6) Some child saying, “Father Christmas isn’t real, it’s just your mum and dad” and then you pick up the pieces as the KS1 children are left in floods of tears at the thought.
In schools, Christmas can be exhausting and this really is only the tip of the iceberg, don’t get me started on the headteachers that hate tinsel! So, I thought it may a good idea to give you teachers some survival tips to keep you sane for the remaining weeks of term.
1) Remember to give yourself a boost. Although it is such a busy time, it’s really important for us to take care of ourselves. For us as supply teachers, it’s our busiest time. So many teachers are off due to ill health and not taking care of themselves. Choose something that makes you happy at this time of year. Maybe it’s going to the Christmas Markets, the shopping, catching up with a former colleague or a friend you’ve not seen for a while. Book it in your diary and really focus on enjoying that time to relax and chill out.
2) Don’t play the superhero. If jobs are being handed out at school and you are feeling overwhelmed, first of all, learn how to say “No.” You are not being unhelpful or problematic, just realistic and suggest a date for when you could get that task done for. A good team will support you and give you more time if you need it. Also learn how to ask for help. If things in the Christmas production aren’t going how you want or you still can’t find those tea towels, get a fresh pair of eyes to take a look and offer some advice and support or even take control, while you concentrate on another area.
3) Embrace the chaos. This is a special time of year, especially for children. It’s natural to be excited and emotions can take over, but take time to appreciate the children in your class. For some of them, you will be providing Christmas for them, as it will be a different time for them at home. Ensure you allow yourself to spend quality time with them, it’s a great opportunity to get to know them better.
4) Make time to eat. Refuel properly. Take 15-20 mins out of your school day to sit, eat, drink and go crazy with the Quality Street. You can look at those assessments later. You taking care of yourself and making time to just relax for a short time is much more effective for everyone than a burnout member of staff.
Hopefully these few tips will get you to the end of term. We wish all our teacher friends a very Merry Christmas and wonderful 2020. See you then!