You’ll probably agree that there are things we do as teachers to make our lives a tad more chaotic in December. We are trying to our best to encourage positive behavior and keep learning on track by adding some holiday fun to the schedule, but sometimes the opposite ends up happening. I’m going to share some common classroom management mistakes made in the weeks leading up to winter break, along with tips for avoiding them!
Classroom Management Mistakes to Avoid in December
When I look back at some of my experiences as a teacher, I can think of several classroom management mistakes that are common during the month of December. As teachers, we want to embrace the fun of the holiday season, but this can create challenges for classroom management if we aren’t careful. Keep reading for some tips to avoid these six common teacher mistakes in December.
1. Change the Schedule (Voluntarily)
The first mistake that classroom teachers make in December is to voluntarily switch up the classroom schedule for extra holiday festivities and special learning activities. There are plenty of seasonal interruptions that are out of your control, so try to avoid adding even more changes to your schedule. Students thrive on predictability and routine. The moment the schedule changes, their behavior often changes right along with it!
You can add seasonal fun to your classroom without completely changing your regular schedule! For example, seasonal reading passages can be extra engaging for your students and they fit into your existing literacy block. By making simple holiday additions to your regular classroom learning activities, you can acknowledge the upcoming festivities without completely changing your routine. Your students will benefit from the consistency!
2. Center Your Classroom Elf on Gifts
One seasonal change that you might bring to your classroom is an elf. If you choose to have a classroom elf visit your classroom during December, it might be tempting to center this special guest on the excitement of the holiday season. You might have your elf report on behavior as students try to earn a special gift. Or the elf might frequently remind your students about Santa’s future visit. The challenge with this is that the classroom elf can become more of a distraction than a classroom management tool.
Instead, you can make your classroom elf’s daily visits worthwhile in different ways! For example, your elf can deliver daily writing prompts and inspire creative writing projects. Or your classroom elf can encourage kindness in the classroom. Centering the classroom elf on something other than gifts will help to reduce the extra distraction caused by your visitor from the North Pole.
3. Have Students Create Elaborate Parent Gifts
A fun part of being a classroom teacher is helping your students create holiday gifts for their parents and guardians. The mistake that some teachers make is setting the bar a bit too high. Ambitious holiday gifts can create more schedule hiccups in your classroom. Plus, having an in-progress Christmas craft hanging out on your counter or tables can add to the visual clutter of your classroom.
Streamline the gift-giving process for your students (and yourself)! There are many simple ways to acknowledge the holiday with a special keepsake that parents will love. Some of these easy gift ideas can even be put together in just one time slot of your day.
In addition to planning elaborate holiday gifts, there are other seasonal festivities that teachers try to cram into the weeks leading up to winter break. Don’t make this mistake! When you pack your schedule with too many activities on one day, you’re setting yourself up for seasonal burnout! This can impact your classroom management because you will be less likely to respond to behavior challenges with patience. Plus, your students are also likely to feel the effects of overscheduling, which will show in their behavior.
Does this mean you shouldn’t plan fun things for your students? Absolutely not! It just means that you will want to be intentional with the activities that you schedule for your classroom. Spread them out as much as possible and be selective about your schedule. For example, instead of planning your holiday party for the last day before break when there are so many other things going on, consider having it the day before. This also gives you an extra day to ensure the classroom is cleaned up and ready to go before leaving for break.
5. Do Things Last Minute
Speaking of intentional planning, the best time to plan your month is right now! One of the biggest mistakes that teachers make in December is thinking that they have plenty of time and leaving things to the last minute. From deciding on a parent gift to prepping for your classroom elf, there are many decisions that you could be making before the first day of December.
When you do things at the last minute, you are at the mercy of student absences, your own sick days, assessment schedules, and schoolwide events. This leads to scrambling and can impact the overall feel of your classroom. When students can sense your stress, their behavior will reflect it!
6. Expect Perfect Behavior
Even if you avoid all of the classroom management mistakes mentioned above, your students will most likely misbehave a little bit more during December. It’s always a mistake to expect perfect behavior from your students, but even more so in the weeks leading up to the winter break.
When you expect excitement and curiosity from your students this season, you are ready for it. You will be more likely to respond with patience and grace when you aren’t expecting perfection from your students. Try to emphasize the good choices that students are making during the month by doing things like sending home positive notes.
Save These Teacher Tips for December
I hope that this post has given you some ideas of what classroom management mistakes to avoid this December. If you’d like to refer back to this post for ideas and resources as you plan your month, just save this post! You can add the pin below to your favorite teaching or holiday board on Pinterest. This will also help more teachers find these resources when they’re looking for sanity-saving tips for December.