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Teaching is not for Wimps-5 Reasons Why You should Give Yourself a Break at the Holidays

Teaching is Not For Wimps: 5 Reasons You Should be Taking a Break

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This time of year when everything gets crazy, it is difficult to remember how important taking a break  for school can be.  By the time many of you read this, you will be on winter break or will be shortly.  But even when taking a “vacation” many of you won’t leave work alone.  Even when you aren’t teaching (or therapy-ing), you are still thinking about it, making materials, collecting ideas, and lesson planning.  And while that dedication is admirable and makes you a good teacher, I want to focus on why taking a break from it can improve your teaching.

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5 Reasons You Should NOT FEEL GUILTY About Taking a Break this Holiday

Taking a break makes time for what really important

Your job / vocation / career is important, but there are other things in your life that are as or more important.  For me (and many of us) family is more important.  Married or single, parent or not, we all have loved ones who deserve our 100% attention.  Even when they know how much our work means for the children and their families, the holidays, in particular, is a time when we can be there for them and #bepresent in the moment.

Taking a break recharges your batteries

I know that is a cliche, but it’s also true.  If you keep going at the speed our classrooms demand, your batteries will eventually give out.  It’s a longer term version of the advice I give about scheduling staff in the classroom.  You have to give breaks at assigned times or breaks get taken at a time that is not planned.  The same is true over longer periods of time.

Teaching is not for Wimps-5 Reasons Why You Should be Taking a Break at the HolidaysTaking a break provides perspective

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day activity that we lose perspective on the big picture.  We focus on what happened today and don’t always see the progress our students are making.  We remember the tantrum this afternoon and we forget that he used to have 3 tantrums a day.  We are frustrated because he is is only using 2-word utterances, and we forget that back in August he rarely used one word.  Taking a break allows you to step away and take the larger view.  It gives you the energy to continue to tackle the challenging behaviors and ignore the tantrums to extinguish them.  It reminds you why you do this and how important it is.

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Taking a break promotes creativity

You know how when you are trying to remember something you really need to remember?  The more you try, the harder it is to remember.  Creativity is similar.  I’m not talking about being crafty creativity, I’m talking about the type of creativity that helps you solve problems and adapt teaching strategies to the needs of your kids.  Let’s face it, teaching is a science and we know a lot about what works.  But a huge part of our job is figuring out how to apply those scientific strategies to the individual needs of our students…that takes creativity.  Getting away and leaving it behind gives your mind time to recharge and reset.  Some of my best, creative ideas come from times when I’ve disconnected.  For instance, my ideas for the topics of my Winter Interactive Books came to me while watching the Grinch in a Broadway series this weekend.  So, put the lesson plans down, walk away from the computer and just let your brain disengage for a bit.

Taking a break prevents burnout

Let’s face it.  Teaching is not for wimps.  The burnout rate is high in education and even higher in special education.  Taking a break means extending the time you can do the job effectively.

So how do you take a break when there is so much work to be done?

If you have work that must be done over break, and that may be the case, set aside time when you are planning to take time for just you and your family.  Put the work away where you can’t see it and dedicate yourself to being in the moment.  Then schedule a specific day or days to work.  For me, I need to schedule them at the end of the break. That way I have a finite time to complete the jobs and I get them done more efficiently.  If I start my work at the beginning of break, the amount of work I could do in 1 day will last for at least 3 if I have that much time.

So how do you take a break?  Share your secrets and strategies in the comments!

Until next time,

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