Three Tips to Help Teachers Survive the Week before “THE BREAK”


As the calendar turns to the second week in December, there are still roughly two weeks left until the end of 2017. For teachers, time is winding down until “The Break.” Everyone who has been a teacher knows what I mean about the “The Break.”  There is a fall break in October that is typically a tease and then there is Thanksgiving Break in November that is actually more work with cooking and traveling; however, December is home to the “The Break.” When this week is over, teachers finally have a chance to truly exhale. The first eighteen weeks are finally in the books. The first semester is over, right in time for the snow to help you relax. Right now, teachers are thinking about all the shows they are going to catch up on. The books they have been putting off reading because they have been grading and attending school events. Some teachers are thinking about the beach and spending winter break in a warmer location than Indiana. While all that sounds good, remember there is still time left before “The Break” begins. Here are three tips to help you survive the week before “The Break.”

Tip #1 Do not talk too much about “The Break”:

As the anticipation and the build increases, it is easy for the teachers to do activities with their students over plans for the holiday break. That just builds anticipation and everyone loses sight about the time left before break. Teachers must keep things business as usual. Even though we are in December, we still must treat this as though we have a month to go.

Tip #2 Do Not Let Up:

Trust I know exactly what you are thinking. You are thinking about how you are five episodes behind on This is Us and you can’t wait for the break to catch on the tear jerking stories of America’s favorite family, The Pearsons. Remember, before you get to the Pearson Family, you have young energetic students to worry about. This point in the year is when teachers let up. They allow students to tip back in their chairs, run up to the line heading to lunch, allow a little more restroom breaks throughout the day, and they play a lot more Go Noodle for brain breaks. Continue to go hard and be that stickler you were back in September about procedures to help keep the focus on academics.

Tip #3 Remember there is still a second semester:

First thing you should do is before you leave for “The Break” is to take down all those seasonal decorations. Remove the snowman and Santa Claus that is posted next to the turkey from Thanksgiving you left up. Pull down all the snowflakes and replace that green and red construction paper.

January marks a new season and new adventures. If you have time to complete some lesson plans for second semester before you leave, you will have less work when you return.  The worst thing is to come back from break having to take down decorations and feverishly trying to piece together lesson plans. January marks a new year and a new semester; give yourself an easy start!


These tips are meant to help. I have lived both sides. I have lived on the side of not utilizing these tips and regretting it and I have lived on the side of taking this advice and thriving after the “The Break.” People might not remember how you started in August, but they always remember how you end in December.



David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.