Tis the season to sparkle and scream in schools, particularly in primary schools as we approach the end of the first term of the year.
As if you haven’t had enough to cope with this term getting used to a new class, settling them into your routines and ways of doing things you come back from half term knowing that if you are going to get everything done before Christmas you are going to have to start now, in October, if you are going to have any chance of getting everything done!
As a parent I regularly overhear moaning from unhappy parents who complain that they are having to take time off work for the nativity, or that they have to drop their child off and collect them from the disco. I wonder what their reaction would be if teachers decided to work to rule and not put so much of their own time and money into trying to make Christmas such a magical time of year for their classes.
If you have never worked in a primary school and you are sitting wondering what on earth I’m talking about, just take a minute and think about all the amazing things children get to enjoy in school at this time of year.
Let’s take a look at all the things schools have to get ready at this time of year:
- pantomime trip
- carol service
- Christmas dinner
- Christmas jumper day
- Winter Fair
- decorations for the classroom
- class presents
And all this while trying to keep up with the demands of an ever challenging school curriculum oh and did I mention it is usually report time too so they have to write their reports while juggling Christmas baubles!
If you work in a primary school of course you don’t need me to tell you any of this, but I thought you might appreciate a photo of my daughter playing Mary in her Nativity.
Of course it is still a busy time of year in secondary schools but for different reasons and I am going to focus on primary teachers today so I apologise if you are one of my amazing KS3/4/5 readers.
Why do you do it?
You could be forgiven for thinking that teachers don’t enjoy this time of year by my comments so far, but for most this is far from the truth. This time of year more than any other I miss being in school. I am fortunate that I am able to spend a lot of time in schools all year round but December is always so busy that I rarely get asked into schools.
I don’t have many physical souvenirs of my years teaching, I have slowly passed on most of my resources to people I knew who were training because it made me sad to look at them all getting dusty in the loft. I did find all my notes from the nativities I lead when I was in the loft the other day though and I had a little smile.
It is a beautifully busy time when you are permanently covered in glitter, your caretaker hates you with a passion but the kids smile and sing and make every sleepless night worthwhile.
What can you do to make sure that this season is joyful and triumphant?
If you are a teacher and you are feeling a little overwhelmed as we get closer to Christmas what can you do?
Lists are your best friend at this time of year. Have lists for everything; what Christmas presents you have bought and still need to get, what food you need to buy, what needs to be finished by the holidays at school, what you need to remember to bring home… everything! Keep them all together, in your phone or in a little notebook so that you can have them with you all the time to amend and tick off.
Ask for help
If there are things that need to be done that someone else can do, let them!
Make things as simple as possible
Buy easy to prepare food, find a charity gift wrapping station and let them wrap all your presents. Whatever you need to do to take the pressure off just do it. We always have everyone over when my stepson comes down for Christmas and I used to spend two days baking and cooking. Then 10 years ago I decided enough was enough. I was 9 months pregnant that Christmas and I wasn’t doing it so we went and got KFC buckets for everyone. Do you know what? Everyone loved it so that’s what we’ve done every year since!
Remember to stop and enjoy all the amazing moments that this time of year brings. Laugh with the children, smile a secret smile when a child gets their line wrong in the nativity and enjoy those moments that are so precious.
The greatest gift you can give is time and love
Anyone who is worth sharing your life with will be more grateful if you find time to spend with them than they will be if you buy a big expensive gift. When children come back to school in January and you ask them what they enjoyed most over the holidays they never list the presents they got. They talk about the days they watched Christmas films in their pyjamas, the fact that their grandparents came to stay, or they were sledging with their cousins. Creating memories is so much more precious than anything money can buy.
Take time to breathe
Find pockets of time when you can just sit and enjoy a quiet cuppa, or perhaps go for a walk, take a bath. Maybe take time to stand and just watch the nativity for a moment and see they joy on the children’s faces, or perhaps just stand in the kitchen between straining the potatoes and carving the turkey just to appreciate the moment and be present. Make sure you aren’t so busy making memories for everyone else that you forget to make them for you too!
If you are fortunate enough to be spending time with loved ones and have delicious Christmas food to eat this year, if you have presents to give to your loved ones and receive presents in return. Remember to be grateful. So many families won’t be having such a magical Christmas this year. If you are able to do anything to help those less fortunate at this time of giving please do. Whether it is donating to a charity, buying a hot drink and something to eat for someone living on the streets or giving a donation to a shelter. At this time of such excess it is easy to forget those who don’t have the luxuries many of us are fortunate enough to have.
Being a teacher in December is one of the most exhausting jobs in the world, but also one of the greatest joys and privileges. We get to see a side to the children in our class even their parents don’t always see and we get to spread love and happiness which some children don’t receive at home. We make magic for children around the world and that makes us second only to Santa in my book!
Remember if your class are getting over excited this week you can always calm them down with one of my lesson plans! Christmas Magic is always popular at this time of year or why not use one of my free lesson plans?