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    5 Tips for Teacher Survival in December

    "Teaching in December is easy," said no teacher ever. Do you find your students' excitement to be through the roof? How about their behavior? Is it also through the roof? Haha! I can relate... but I do have a few tips and tricks that I have found really help to calm the chaos in the month of December, or at least embrace it. They're kids. They're going to be excited for the holidays, but it doesn't have to overwhelm you.

    1. Build on the excitement.

    Are your students super excited for the holidays? Are they even more excited, or ready, for a break from school? Use it to your advantage! Find even the tiniest of ways to use that excitement throughout your day.

    • Try a seasonal call and response!
      • Teacher: Santa Claus is comin'! Students: to town!
      • Teacher: On Dasher! On Dancer! Students: On Prancer! And Vixen!
      • Teacher: Run, run, as fast as you can! Students: You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!
      • Teacher: All aboard! Students: The Polar Express!
      • Teacher: Frosty! Students: The Snowman!
      • Teacher: Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells! Students: Jingle all the way!
      • Teacher: Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus! Students: Right down Santa Claus Lane!
    • Use fun holiday incentives for good behavior.
      • erasers, pencils, holiday trinkets
    • Hold a class behavior challenge.
      • Reward the students for whole-class good behavior with "snowballs" or white fuzzy poms in a jar. When the jar is full, the class gets a small reward.

    2. Respect student emotions and beliefs.

    Not every student will be excited about a holiday break. Some students may not be looking forward to the time away from school at all. Acknowledge it and respect it. Your students' social and emotional well-being matters. Keep in mind that not all students celebrate the holidays in the same way. Take their thoughts, beliefs, and traditions and learn from them. Allow students the chance to express their emotions and share their beliefs. This will keep that sense of community alive and well in your classroom during the holiday season.

    3. Maintain structure and routine.

    This one is a biggie. While I love some seasonal activities (and we do a lot of them), I also believe that maintaining the routine in the classroom is key to keeping misbehaviors at bay. In my class, I continue running guided math and guided reading groups all the way up until the last day before break. I do this because it's our norm. Take a student out of their norm and that's when we might see some issues arise. Keep the structure. Keep the routine. Keep your expectations high... and offer positive reinforcements like crazy!

    4. Sprinkle in the seasonal activities.

    This is where it gets fun! I know in the tip above I mentioned that we maintain our norm, but that doesn't mean we don't add some seasonal goodness into that routine. Instead of reading our basal series, we can read some of our favorite seasonal picture books. Rather than our typical guided reading texts, add in some holiday passages. And everybody loves a good ole Holidays Around the World study! This season wouldn't be complete without it. I add seasonal graphic organizers to our guided reading stations. I add some fun holiday erasers into our guided math games to use as counters or game pieces. I put some seasonal writing prompts into our writing center. For morning work, we even practice paragraph writing, but with a holiday twist! It's easy to sprinkle in the fun while keeping the structure and routine the same as any other day. Just make small tweaks here and there.

    5. Teacher self-care.

    This seems to be all the buzz lately and for good reason. As teachers, we do not take care of ourselves. We come to school sick, we stay and work late, we bring our work home. Are you nodding your head in agreement? I am. Let's remember that during a slightly stressful season of teaching, we have to take care of ourselves. You can't pour from an empty cup!

    • go for a walk each day
    • drink lots of water
    • get plenty of sleep
    • read a book for 30 min (set a timer)
    • get a massage or a pedicure
    • binge your favorite show on Netflix
    • journal, pray, or meditate
    • take a SICK DAY if you're sick

    Conclusion:

    The month of December as a teacher is tough. It kinda reminds me of October. It's busy, but exciting, and can get crazy overwhelming. So dear teacher, build on that excitement. Respect their emotions and beliefs regarding the holidays. Maintain structure and routine while sprinkling in the holiday fun. Most importantly, my friend, take care of YOU. Finally, let's remember, they're just kids. Let them be little.

    December Freebie!

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      FREE Thanksgiving Activities


      Are you needing some fun Thanksgiving activities for Thanksgiving? These are some of my very favorite Thanksgiving-themed ELA resources and because I'm so thankful for you, I'm going to give you a 23-page FREE download for being a 2nd Grade Stuff VIP. Scroll down to the bottom and complete the form to get instant access to your FREE Thanksgiving Activities!

      For each activity I provide:
      • teaching suggestions
      • standards covered for grades 1-3
      • links to suggested books
      • links to other resources that you might find useful

      Authentic Writing Centers


      Do you have a writing center in your classroom? If you run Guided Reading in your classroom or follow the Daily 5 approach to ELA centers (or a modified version of it), then you probably do. But may I question your writing center for a moment? Let's reflect on these points together. Are your students writing for an authentic purpose? Are they writing for a real audience? Are your writing centers simulating a real-life writing experience that your students will one day be asked to do in the future? If not, give me just a few moments of your time and let's rethink writing centers in our classrooms.

      Guided Math: Budget-Friendly Math Centers [Part 3 of 3]


      Welcome back! If you missed the previous posts in this 3-part blog series, you can catch up on Part 1: The Overview and Part 2: A Closer Look into Math Rotations before reading this one. If you've been reading the series, then you're ready to finish it off with Part 3 which is all about managing math centers without breaking the bank or spending hours printing, laminating, and cutting math centers. So here are some of my favorite ways to save time and money on math centers!

      Guided Math: A Closer Look into Math Rotations [Part 2 of 3]


      If you missed the first post in this series about why small group math instruction is best practice for your students, you can go back to {this post} to read "Part 1: The Overview" in my Guided Math blog series. I share the "why" behind Guided Math and how the students rotate through the stations including a sample schedule and rotation chart.

      My students use the Math TIME acronym for center rotations and small group instruction. In Part 1 of this blog series, I explained what each letter stands for (see below) and today we will dig a little deeper into what each of the stations look like in my classroom.

      Guided Math: The Overview [Part 1 of 3]




      Why Small Group Math Instruction?

      I have students that range in ability levels from 2-3 grade levels below average to 2-3 grade levels above. Do you see a range of ability levels in your classroom too? If so, how can we justify teaching the same whole group math lesson to all of our students? The below average kiddos will be lost and the above average kiddos will be bored. The only students you are reaching will be your average kiddos. That’s maybe 30% of your class… if you’re lucky. With those numbers, how can we justify that whole group math instruction is best practice?

      Important to Note:
      • You can teach to the ability of your students.
      • You only explicitly teach 4-6 kids at a time which means you can give students the attention they need.
      • Your groups can be flexible (students can move groups) depending on the content and pre-assessment results.
      • You can target your below average group with interventions designed for their needs.
      • You can target your above average group with challenging opportunities to enrich their learning.

      Back to School Picture Books


      Let's talk picture books! I absolutely love picture book read-alouds. Sometimes I use them to introduce a lesson in a content area. Sometimes I read one and we dig deep into the context. Often we read picture books just.for.fun!

      Today, I'm sharing some of my favorite picture books for back to school! Take a look at some of my favorites below. They are affiliate links that will take you right to Amazon so you can purchase. You can also find them all in one place on my Amazon Affiliate Storefront {HERE}.