image for podcast for teacher episode about how to maintain positive classroom management during the holiday season

How to Maintain Positive Classroom Management During the Holiday Season

podcast Nov 03, 2023

How to Avoid Teacher Burn Out During the Holidays

The holiday season often brings joy and magic to the classroom, but can also spur chaos and burnout. Students can be overstimulated, triggered and dysregulated. Parents, who are also stressed, can be overly sensitive and also need a little extra TLC.

As educators, how can we tap into the festive spirit while avoiding the stress of overpacked schedules and unruly student behavior? In this post, I'll explore 5 techniques to find calm amidst the holiday hustle and maintain control in the classroom with a little more grace, and a little less grinch.

5 Tips 5 to Maintain Calm During the Holiday Hustle

 1. Make Peace with Doing Less

First, take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. It starts at home. Survey your family and let each member choose the top holiday tradition that means the most to them, and consider opting out of the others. Maybe for one child it's baking the cookies, maybe for another it's driving around seeing the holiday lights. Instead of rushing around, stressed, trying to create ALL the perfect memories, consider doing less, and enjoying each activity more.

Make similar choices for your classroom. Gather input from colleagues, and see what is really important to them. Then, make an effort to strategically reduce the number of events, activities, and lessons you pack into the holiday season. Pick a few special classroom moments to focus on and say no to the rest. It's not you responsibility to make sure that every parent has a gift, and a holiday craft, and holiday photos and poems and a winter program, and every student has a magical experience. It's too much. Again, less is more. Remember, you have curriculum to cover, too!

2. Build in wiggle room into your schedule and anticipate chaos.

Leave extra time and space in your lesson plans, recognizing that things will likely run more slowly than normal. Students will be excitable and easily distracted for weeks before and after winter break. Absorb the reality that the day after Halloween may not be the best time to introduce complex new material or expect students to learn in a single lesson. Instead, focus on review and schedule more challenging content for when students return more focused in January.

Also, consistency with your classroom management plans and structure become even more essential during the holidays. When students get excitable, double down on classroom routines, procedures, and schedule consistency. Post the daily agenda, use countdown timers, redirect off-task behavior early, consistently and gently. With so much overstimulation during the holiday craziness, students need clear and firm boundaries more than ever.

3. Take steps to cultivate calmness amidst the frenzy.

Incorporate more mindfulness, breathing exercises, brain breaks, and movement into each day's schedule. Set a peaceful classroom backdrop like soft holiday music or calm visuals streaming on your smartboard. The Yule log is always a cozy favorite.

Have independent yet stimulating activities on hand for students who become overstimulated or overwhelmed. For example, consider having calming coloring sheets, mandala drawings, puzzles or online mindfulness games available, with the option to wear headphones. Build in de-stressing opportunities before anxiety escalates. Your ability to model calmness will help students feel secure. Make an extra special effort to speak quietly and calmly.

4. Try and keep it simple.

Give yourself permission to reuse successful holiday activities from past years. Resist pressure to constantly invent brand new holiday projects just for novelty's sake. Chances are you already have some tried-and-true December lessons, crafts, and routines that you and your students love. It's perfectly alright to repeat these rather than running yourself ragged creating something from scratch.

Consider which classroom holiday activities consistently bring you and your students joy, then focus on traditions you already know work. There's no shame in singing the same song every year at the winter program. You may even find parents appreciate the same holiday craft every year so that they have a "collection" of the same trinkets for each of their children that you've taught.

5. Make a point to overcommunicate with parents about holiday events.

Send frequent reminders about performances, parties, deadlines, and schedule changes. It can be devastating for a parent to miss out on an activity and they will be very defensive, even if you know you sent numerous reminders!

This also goes without saying - be sensitive to varying family cultures, traditions, and beliefs. Avoid narrow holiday assignments about Christmas wish lists or gifts. Not everyone celebrates the same way, and some students may not celebrate at all.  While it's important to be inclusive and culturally sensitive, recognize that we still have curriculum to teach. Don't allow yourself to be bullied by parents who demand you spend time teaching every tradition. I always made just one assignment where students could share how and if they celebrate, and left it at that. 


By using these strategies, I hope you can fully enjoy the season's special moments with students and still have energy left to make magical memories with your own family.


Click this link for a set of calming coloring mandalas that are perfect for most grade levels. CLICK HERE ⬅️

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