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35 Must-Do Winter Break Ideas for Teachers           



Can it be?            

Winter break is finally, finally, FINALLY here! For any teacher who has made it through this first half or so of the school year, being rewarded with a pat on the back or a token candy cane is not enough. Everyone has earned a whole lot of celebrating. To get the disco ball rolling and make sure we make the most of winter break, the list below provides a battery of ideas for guaranteeing that not a moment of freedom goes to waste. Before the word “list” begets a dramatic eye roll, just look at some of the suggestions below. Odds are, you will want to do a whole lot of these to connect to a happier, more relaxed version of you!

  1. Unplug any laptops or computers and shove them into a dark corner of your classroom. Leave devices at school, walk out the door, and do not go back to retrieve anything. Do. Not.
  2. Reconnect with at least one friend or family member that you haven’t been able to talk to as much as you wanted this year.
  3. Weather permitting, take as many walks in the great outdoors as humanly possible. Mother Nature has a way of bringing calm to frazzled spirits.
  4. Download a collection of podcasts that make you smile (or better yet, laugh out loud) for your commute to work in 2022.
  5. Sip on lots of warm, cozy beverages under warm, cozy blankets. Embrace Hygge.
  6. Relish the joy in going to a clean, private bathroom whenever the urge arises. Really. It’s the little things!
  7. Watch at least one awful holiday movie, if not several. Feel free to hurl insults at the screen.
  8. Purchase at least one limited edition holiday food item: ice cream, oat milk eggnog (no judgment here), you name it.
  9. Write a thoughtful note or letter to a loved one who has been endlessly supportive during these difficult pandemic months. Deliver it with or without cookies.
  10.  Speaking of cookies: bake some or buy some, and then eat them. Whatever you pick, make sure it’s a favorite, whether that means freshly baked peanut butter blossoms or those Girl Scout cookies that have been in the freezer just waiting for the right time to be eaten.
  11.  Start a happiness journal where you chronicle the little things that spark joy each day, no matter how big or small. Yes, that cup of coffee counts!
  12.  Sit in front of a fireplace or fire pit with a blanket. Put away all smartphones so that the full meditative effect of a beautiful fire can be enjoyed.
  13.  Make a list of attainable, enjoyable goals for Summer 2022 that you can start planning to accomplish whenever you need an uplifting moment. 
  14.  Check the newspaper for twinkly light shows, outdoor holiday movies or craft fairs. Try to make it to at least one special event and soak up the seasonal joy.
  15.  Buy a cheap foam roller and watch an online tutorial for how to work all that pent-up tension out of contracted muscles.
  16.  Go on a day trip to somewhere that provides a much-needed change of scenery. If that’s a shopping mall, own it!
  17.  Be a local tourist and find the museum exhibit, stage production, or restaurant experience you have been longing for.
  18.  Take care of that small but annoying DIY home project that has been undone for months. Then, reward yourself with a quality nap when it’s all over.
  19.  Find videos of fainting goats on YouTube and watch all of them. You’re welcome.
  20.  Pick a room and paint it a fresh color for a mental reset. Don’t be afraid to go bold!
  21.  Try a new fitness craze, just to see what it’s all about. Who knows? It might become your new favorite thing to do.
  22.  Get some pampering done: a haircut, a manicure, or a spa visit. It’s been way too long for many of us!
  23.  Clean out a closet or crowded space, and finally give those items you never use to charity.
  24.  Make as many hot meals as you can; once the school year starts, cold breakfasts and lunches are back. Alas!
  25.  Look through a seed catalog, order what looks good, and plan out a spring garden.
  26.  Pick up that musical instrument you’ve been neglecting and remind yourself how to play it. Music is food for the soul!
  27.  Invent or create something: a piece of art, a scarf, a new kind of pie. Stretch those creative muscles!
  28.  Do a crossword puzzle or sudoku every day of vacation. Want to go next-level? Write a puzzle and give it to an avid puzzler as a gift!
  29.  Watch the sun rise or set with a hot drink. Having a furry friend to pet is optional but recommended.
  30.  Make a list of super cool things about yourself that starts with the sentence stem “I Am.” Then, read the list every time you feel down when the new year begins as a reminder.
  31.  Pick one aspect of your life that you can control and that you would like to change. Create a plan for making that change happen.
  32.  Take the time to prepare a three-course meal, either for yourself or to share with others. Serve the meal with a tablecloth, nice dishes, and perhaps some flowers in a vase. Be sure to include some decadent choices that rarely make an appearance at the table.
  33.  Have a private dance party, either with just yourself or with a small group of trusted friends. Extra points for anyone who gets silly!
  34.  Create a serene space within your home that will serve as a refuge for 2022. Keep it clean in the coming months to make sure it continues to serve as a personal retreat.
  35.  Find someone that you want to spend the day with and do something together. Photos are optional, but don’t overdo it. Experiences are better without too much smartphone action!         

We all know that 2021 has been a doozy of a year, and we have no idea what might be coming. However, by getting ourselves into a place of preparedness, joy, and appreciation, we will head into our classrooms refreshed for 2022. Even if just a few items on this list make it to our winter break plan, that has the power to provide a much-needed reset for the year to come. Wishing everyone a very happy vacation full of all the wonderful things life can offer. Happy Holidays!

Written by Miriam Plotinsky, Education World Contributing Writer

Miriam is a Learning and Achievement Specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where she has worked for nearly 20 years as an English teacher, staff developer and department chair. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, and recently earned her certification in Education Administration and Supervision. She can be followed on Twitter: @MirPloMCPS

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