5 Tips for Surviving the Week Before Winter Break

From final assessments and report cards to juggling all the extra campus activities that come with celebrating the holiday season, you are hanging on for dear life trying to check off everything on your campus to-do list. Here are five tips to keep things running smoothly and your students engaged the week before winter break.

1. Keep routines and expectations

Keeping your students on track and learning will require a little extra patience and a lot more effort on your part this time of the year. There will be a lot of interruptions to the daily routine with holiday programs and parties. Maintain normal routines so students don’t think the holiday fun is an excuse to misbehave! Take a few minutes every morning to review expectations and let them know what’s ahead for the day.

2. Plan, plan, plan

You absolutely want to make sure you have lessons and activities planned to keep students engaged and learning. Now is not the time to improvise or do things on the fly. Downtime + excited students = CHAOS. Incorporate holiday fun and activities into your lessons. Help students review for exams in a fun way. Keep them writing with holiday-themed writing prompts, or have them make cards for other students and school staff. Keep things simple. Maybe even do a lesson or activity they enjoyed earlier in the semester. It’s a win/win. Students are engaged, and you don’t have to create something new. Be sure to keep things simple and low-key for the last day before break.

3. Have FUN!

Now is a great time to add some fun to learning! Play learning games like Kahoot, Boggle, or Scattergories. Get students moving to review materials. Read seasonal books and do activities that support skills review with the books. STEAM challenges are a perfect way to keep students engaged and provide hands-on, interactive learning. Get outdoors and move.

4. Clean up day

For a fresh start in the new year, have students clean out their desks, notebooks, papers, and lockers. Involve them in helping organize the classroom. They can sort through activity bins to put items where they belong. Chances are good that your classroom library is a bit messy so let them get books in order. Students can weed out damaged books so you can repair or replace them. Have older students take down bulletin boards and help you decide what to feature next semester.

5. Prep for next semester

Give yourself the “gift” of a true winter break by taking some time this week to prepare for the first week of January. Make any necessary copies and create a list of things you need for activities and lessons. If you’re feeling really ambitious, go ahead and get January planned. Mark key dates for next semester on your calendar. Take down and put away holiday decorations, and make a plan or put up new bulletin boards. Grade papers and get grades finished. Turn out the lights and head out for a wonderful holiday with family and friends!

Everyone is counting down the days until the first big break of the year! If you take a little time to plan, add fun learning opportunities and lessons, I bet you’ll find that the days go smoothly. Not only will your students love the last days before winter break, but so will you!

Do you have something you love to do before winter break? We’d love to hear your ideas.


Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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