OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Great Ideas for December and the Holidays in the Classroom

Once Halloween hits, we sometimes start to feel like we lose our class until New Year!   But this time of year shouldn’t be stressful for our students or for classroom teachers. The Center for Responsive Schools has many ideas for making our classroom focused on learning right up to the long break in December. I have compiled some great articles that you can use to maintain the joyfulness and learning in your classroom during December.

Holiday Celebrations
Center for Responsive Schools -December 06, 2010

“Winter holiday celebrations! They’re such a big part of American school life. But as our schools grow more diverse, traditional celebrations can leave some children and families feeling excluded or uncomfortable. Also, even if everyone at your school is fine with the traditional celebrations, there’s the matter of time pressure: We’re constantly trying to squeeze more into the school day, and holiday parties can take time away from learning.

Here are a few ideas for alternatives to traditional winter holiday parties…” READ MORE…

Keep Learning Going During Holiday & Vacation Times
Center for Responsive Schools – November 01, 2010

“Suddenly, it seems like the class is falling apart. Classroom routines that were going smoothly just a few weeks ago now seem rough around the edges. More and more children are forgetting to follow classroom rules. The noise level is higher, and academic productivity seems lower. What’s going on?

In the weeks leading up to winter vacation, what you’re seeing may well be a case of the holiday season jitters. From November through January, children often become more fidgety, giggly, testy, and tired. There are many reasons: they may be distracted by the excitement of home activities, or they may be reacting to increased stress at home. At school, schedules are often disrupted at this time of year by assemblies, plays, and special events, and such changes in routine can throw children’s behavior off. Plus, at many schools, recess is curtailed once winter weather arrives.

What can you do to help your students stay on track and learn at their best during this season? We’ve found that an extra measure of calmness, consistency, and structure can work wonders. Here are some strategies you might want to try…” READ MORE…

Handling the Holidays
Center for Responsive Schools – December 13, 2009

“As the holidays swing into full gear, maintaining a productive and calm atmosphere in the classroom can be challenging. Students can be more fidgety, giggly, testy, and tired at this time of year. In December, children are also often distracted by the excitement of home activities and by the stress that their parents and caregivers may be feeling. Furthermore, your classroom schedule may be disrupted by assemblies, class plays, and holiday lunches…” READ More… 

Morning meetings during the holidays and December can also be planned effectively to meet the needs of your classroom:

Winter Holidays
Center for Responsive Schools – November 01, 2002

Question: The children in my classroom come from many different traditions and cultures. I know the winter holidays could be a great opportunity for children to learn about each other’s cultures but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any suggestions? READ MORE…

In his book, A Healthy Classroom, author Michael Grinder helps teachers understand the “Seasons of the Year” and how your classroom is a “group dynamic” always at work. Teachers need to be proactive as soon as Halloween hits. By this time, the group hopefully is formed and children are beginning to feel comfortable in their positive learning community. The teacher may need to move from the stance of “flight attendant” back to “pilot” during this time of year. It’s important for teachers to realize the natural ebb and flow of the classroom throughout the seasons in their classrooms. Responsive Classroom practice offer teachers the proactive strategies to provide children with all they need to be successful even during this seasonal time of year. For some children this is an exciting time of year, for others it could be quite the opposite. It is important for the teacher to provide a classroom structure that is predictable and inclusive to all cultures. Once you return to your classroom in January, I always encourage teachers to revisit the work they did during the first six weeks of school and set children up for success for the second half of the schools year.

Here’s to a wonderful December with your students and the best to you in 2017!

Shaw_PatrickPatrick Shaw
pshaw@ocmboces.org
OCM BOCES – Staff Development Specialist
Certified Responsive Classroom® Trainer by the Center for Responsive Schools (Developers of the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching and learning)

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