December 7, 2017
For many students, the contrast between their classmate’s lives and their own can be particularly painful during December. It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone in your class is going to have a merry holiday filled with presents and loving families. Children of poverty are not the only ones who struggle this time of year. You may have students whose home lives appear on the surface to be happy, but they may be dealing with family conflicts, family substance abuse, or any other of the perils of modern life that can be so difficult for all children.
Of course, it is only natural that caring teachers would want to celebrate the joys of the season with their students, but thoughtful teachers will strive to keep the impact of the holidays on their classrooms as low key as possible. Here are some ways you can keep your students focused on school instead of the holidays in the days ahead.
· When students veer into discussions of the holiday, gently steer them back to learning. You don’t have to be the Grinch to do this, just be gentle, pleasant, and firm.
· When your students beg for a class party, offer a celebration after the holidays to commemorate classroom achievements instead.
· If students bring you gifts, handle them tactfully and as privately as possible. Honor the giver with a sincere thank you card rather than making a big deal of the gift in front of students who were not able to give gifts.
· Recognize that the distraction and excited buzz that many students feel is completely contagious. If you are used to one or two students being off task, expect to see many students off task now. Add in activities that help students stay on task: use manipulatives, have them work in pairs, use checklists and choice boards...do whatever will appeal to your students’ interests so that they will want to work.