Going Back After Winter Break: 5 Things for Teachers to Look Forward To

A few years ago, I wrote a post that went viral about teachers going back to work after Christmas break. I was sitting on my couch in my pajamas feeling the familiar pang of Sunday anxiety and wrote the post quickly and posted it without much thought. Soon, I was getting emails from teachers around the world (literally) thanking me for the encouragement and letting me know how anxious they were, as well, about going back to work after such a long break.

Honestly, I’m not feeling very inspiring 3 years later. I face the same dilemma but am having to dig deep for any semblance of positivity. The break felt shorter than ever, and I think all the sleeping-in actually made me more tired. Is that a thing?

So, this post probably won’t inspire you the same way my words did a few years ago, but maybe it will give you a just a splash of encouragement as we face the new year and head back to school. Here are 5 simple, positive things that might help tomorrow feel a little more doable:

  1. Routine

Over the past 2 weeks, I have loved staying up late, eating breakfast at 1pm and running to the store whenever I felt like it. It was glorious.

But honestly, I am ready for a routine again.

I need a bedtime and structured meal times and healthy foods. Much like an toddler, I can’t seem to be trusted to implement these things on my own. The rigidity of a school day routine may feel daunting as I sit in my sweatpants at 3:20 pm, but honestly I need it.

My poor body needs it. The first few days might feel ROUGH, but I know I will appreciate the routine and “normality” that comes with returning to work. A bedtime. A designated wakeup time. Yes, they can feel like negative things, but for me, they are also positive.

2. Less Time on My Phone

Instead of filling break with activity after activity, I have gone by the mantra of “the less the merrier.”

I have not hiked or done an escape room or done community service or traveled the world.

I have mostly laid around scrolling on my phone or reading blogs on my computer while eating.

It was a nice break, but I’ve given the screen time function on my phone a bit of a workout.

Even though phone scrolling seems “relaxing” at the time, I always feel stressed out, distracted and even anxious after getting sucked into Instagram. I always feel better off my phone, and working will definitely help in that department.

3. A Fresh Start

The great thing about coming back after Winter break is that even though it has a “new year” feel to it, we typically have the same kids in our classrooms. Our semester will break in a couple weeks, and I am SO looking forward to a fresh start but with the same kids.

The getting to know each other…that part is done. Obviously relationships progress and continue, but I know their names! I know their pets’ names! I know who they went with to Homecoming! I know too much!

And they know me. They know Chili’s is my favorite restaurant and can tell how many cups of coffee I’ve had by how fast I talk. They know what to do when they come in, and they know my pet peeves.

We have a rhythm. We have a routine. They know where the sharpener is and where I keep the Kleenex (until October when I ran out). They know the classroom and my style, and we got used to each other.

We get a fresh start as far as the semester goes, but I don’t have to start from scratch in all those other areas. (Unless you are a K-3 teacher…in that case your students FORGOT EVERYTHING about school over the past two weeks and you will literally be living September all over again. I’m sorry.)

4. Colleagues

Where would any of us be without them? I started at a new school this year so naturally I do not have the same relationships as I did with the teachers I worked alongside for years. They were accustomed to me ransacking their cabinets for plastic silverware or snacks, watching a class so I could go to the bathroom. They knew my coffee order and intimate details of my daily life (whether they liked it or not). They were some of my best friends and teaching alongside them made the bad days worth it.

Even though it hasn’t quite reached the level of companionship I had previously, I miss my colleagues and teacher friends at my new school (I sound like a 3rd grader). I might not be stealing their food (yet), but I miss telling them they look cute or collaborating or asking them to send me their entire lesson plan for the week or grabbing copies of things off their piles to save me a trip to the printer. It will be good to see them.

5. The Kids

Last but definitely not least (well, depends on your class…jk jk) are the students. Stress aside, early morning wakeups aside, planning and grading aside..my students are awesome. I love them.

They are funny and smart and make me laugh daily. We have inside jokes about things that have happened in class and have grown together and learned together. They push me to want to be a better teacher because that is what they deserve.

Truth be told, the *majority* of the days, I love spending time with my students.

Yes, I teach them Spanish and do the planning and the grading and the whole deal, but when you look at it like “spending time with kids” it becomes a whole lot easier to look forward to.

I couldn’t find a deep, inspirational message about why you should look forward to heading back to work. I’m feeling a little blah about it this year, so this list of 5 little things is all I’ve got. No matter how you feel, I hope you have a great start back and an amazing 2019.

Now get those lunches packed, your clothes picked out and put on a smile! Happy New Year!

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