How To Keep Your Students Calm And Focused This Holiday Season

Smart Classroom Management: How To Keep Your Students Calm And Focused This Holiday SeasonAs the holiday season ramps up, students become antsier.

They can feel the midyear break just around the corner.

And their excitement builds day by day.

The weather, the music, the traditions. The decorations, the lights, the commercials.

Despite how much your school may try to avoid the reminders, it all has a way of spilling over into the classroom.

Causing excitability, restlessness, and misbehavior.

If you’re not careful, the two weeks or so before vacation can be a stressful grind to the finish.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, with just a few strategies it can be a time of calm and focus and even accelerating improvement.

Here’s how:

1. Take your time.

Your students are strongly influenced by your temperament. Thus, the more excitable they are due to outside forces, the more important it is for you to stay calm and take your time.

Pause frequently. Speak in a softer voice. Move efficiently and with graceful ease. Breathe fully, in and out, and keep your body loose and relaxed.

Although your students may bring rambunctiousness and commotion with them from home, you control whether they keep it or surrender it out into the ether.

2. Provide more breaks.

Mental and physical breaks become more essential the closer you get to vacation. So get your students up and moving frequently, every thirty minutes or so.

Lead them in a series of stretches, yoga poses, exercises, or slow deep breathing. Let them walk over to say hello to a friend and even chat for a few minutes.

Include more time and opportunities to express their thoughts and ideas though pair-share and group work.

By providing the means through which they can shake out their restlessness, they’ll return to their more focused responsibilities refreshed and prepared to learn.

3. Focus on details.

One of the negative byproducts of over-excited students is that their work becomes sloppy and less precise. Following directions and performing routines also tend to suffer.

The antidote is to be more specific and detailed in your instruction. Add an additional modeling exercise. Ask another checking-for-understanding question.

Double down on the nitty-gritty and the chassis won’t get so loose.

And if anything ever fails to meet your high-bar standards, back up to the previous transition, reestablish your expectations, and start over again.

4. Increase the challenge.

The tendency is for teachers to lighten up as vacation nears. Without even realizing it, they find themselves accepting less and asking less because they happen to be in the midst of a holiday season.

But this sends the message that it’s okay to be less attentive and have shoddy work habits, that a certain amount of misbehavior is expected.

Although you should always push the envelope on what you ask of your students—every day of the year—the closer you get to an extended break the more critical this becomes.

Because it keeps your students on task, focus-driven, and striving to the end.

Subtle But Powerful

Effective classroom management requires you to be mindful of the moment, the time of day, and the season of the year. It takes a proactive view and a shrewd approach to potential landmines that lie ahead.

If you simply go about your business, the two weeks before holiday break can be filled with headaches, apprehension, and added stress.

But with just a few adjustments, a few tweaks to your pace, timing, instruction, and disposition, you can maintain your own sense of peace and enjoyment this holiday season.

You can subtly but powerfully alleviate the negative excitement and energy, the silliness and distraction, the impatience and impulsiveness.

And keep your class calm and focused all the way to the final bell.

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20 Responses to How To Keep Your Students Calm And Focused This Holiday Season

  1. Sue Oberkirsch December 2, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Thanks, just the reminders I needed!

    • Michael Linsin December 2, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

      Glad to hear it, Sue.

  2. Marla December 2, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    You are a ridiculously gifted teacher genius! I love reading your blog (and the first book of yours that I bought). It’s all so inspiring. It’s also really refreshing not to read about another marble jar. I swear to god I’ll lose my mind if I hear about another tally system or silly behavior plan that makes behaving extrinsically motivating. Thank you so much for sharing and for being you! You make a difference in so many classrooms!

    • Michael Linsin December 2, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words, Marla! I’m so glad you like the blog.

  3. David Strauss December 2, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    Love your blog! I recently read your book for PE teachers and it has really helped. This is my first year teaching PE after being in the classroom for 11 years. I would love to see blog posts specifically for PE teachers. Do you think that’s a possibility? Thanks for all your help.

    • Michael Linsin December 3, 2017 at 11:29 am #

      Hi David,

      I’d love to write an article specific to PE, but it isn’t quite general enough for our audience. However, the topic is on the list of future e-guides. Stay tuned!


  4. Marlene December 2, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

    I love reading your approach to things. My son and I struggle with his fourth grade teacher who knows it all . She’s very scripts,and isn’t open to suggestions I’ve forwarded your web to her and I don’t think she appreciated it.i was hoping she’d maybe try another approach with my son ,I was wrong

    • Lonnie December 11, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

      What if you were to suggest that you teach her class? Not full-time just once in awhile, maybe try out some of those approaches that you’ve suggested?

  5. Kim Ramer December 3, 2017 at 5:59 am #

    Michael, I have passed your blog on to many new teachers, but I never think about sending it along to the “seasoned” ones. Your blog is reminder to ALL teachers to keep the focus on our task so that the kids can keep their focus as well. I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now and I look forward to each new one. My last observation from a new principal was glowing. I’ll always remember her words, “I want to be a student in your classroom!” Your blog has helped to guide me and reinforce the great classroom management skills that I have been practicing. Thank you for helping me have the best class atmosphere that I have had in ten years!

    • Michael Linsin December 3, 2017 at 11:31 am #

      Hi Kim,

      Congratulations on your latest observation. You principal’s comment was just about the best complement you can get. Way to go!

  6. Swati December 3, 2017 at 8:39 am #

    Thank you Michael.I really love to read your blog and it help a lot in our classroom management.
    Keep us updating such articles

    • Michael Linsin December 3, 2017 at 11:32 am #

      You’re welcome, Swati.

  7. Perrie December 3, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    I just want to thank you for all your sage advice. As a substitute elementary teacher, I have found many of your suggestions to be extremely practical, even if I am only in a class for one day. The holidays are particularly trying for substitute teachers, so this post will help us tremendously! Keep up the good work!

    • Michael Linsin December 3, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

      You’re welcome, Perrie! Will do.

  8. Myra December 5, 2017 at 9:39 pm #

    Hi Michael. Do you close comments on your posts after a certain amount of time? My mentor recommended your blog to me and I had questions about some of your earlier posts, but there’s no option to comment on them.

    • Michael Linsin December 6, 2017 at 9:53 am #

      Hi Myra,

      Yes, it’s currently set at 100 days.



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