This week of Halloween has had its ups and downs. I started to feel really stressed out over some political wranglings, but eventually remembered that stress starts ramping up every year around this time.
The first quarter and the honeymoon with kids is over. It’s dark (it will be really dark until it snows now with the time change here in Alaska), and everyone is going to have had too much sugar after this weekend. As the semester end draws closer, kids and parents are more worried about grades, and holiday drama enters the mix.
My first impulse is to make hot chocolate and curl up on the couch with a book for the rest of the winter, but luckily I have an inservice today with colleagues. (Mild sarcasm there, but also some truth.) This week, I managed to go to three good school concerts in a row at school, partly because my kids demanded it, and they took me into dreamland. I made sure that there was motion in every class period, even if it’s just to tell the kids to go outside and run around the relocatable one time. And I’m getting at least my minimum steps in every day.
At our school, we have a system of little cards called “High Fives.” We fill them out to tell colleagues what we admire about them. One copy goes to the colleague, and another to a box that is used for drawings at our holiday party, when recipients of the High Fives get a chance at gift cards. I’ve started a ritual of asking one class a week which teachers deserve the High Fives. It’s fun to hear their answers, and I get to write things like, “Rachel says you still help her with her homework, even though she’s not in your class any more,” or “Eric says you make math fun with your pineapple jokes.”
Finally, I’m trying to make sure that there is a chance for kids to share in class every day, a time for them to work in small groups, and a moment when we will all laugh together at something like a video that I’ve found or that they’ve sent me. I’ve continued to take pictures of them at every school activity possible, and I share those for us to talk about them.
So as we move into the dark time of the year, here’s my four-part prescription for my own well-being, and for my students as much as I can control: movement, positive thinking, connection and laughter.