1. Keep Teaching.
This one seems pretty obvious. Like, it's our job. But with all of the other disruptions -- assemblies, dances, student body officers stopping by with singing telegrams and candy canes -- it can be easy to kind of throw up your hands and do Five Days of Christmas Movies between now and when you go on break. There are teachers that do. Personally, I hate classroom parties. I didn't like them as a student, I didn't like them as a teacher. If your students have seven classes, there's a good chance they'll have parties in at least four of them next week. I love the idea of being the teacher that they get a break from the partying and they actually get to do, like, school stuff. That doesn't mean you don't have fun. It doesn't mean you don't do something winter-themed or holiday-themed. You can mix it up with clips from Elf or A Muppet Christmas Carol or The Tale of the Merry Chupacabra. But get your content in there. Keep teaching. You'll have students complain, but also have as many be relieved that they get to do something.
2. Clean Your Room.
ZOMG this is the worst Play Like a PIRATE post ever. I heard that. Winter Break is nearly halfway through the school year. You've been teaching at least eighty days by now. Which, if you're like me (some of you aren't, and are completely tidy all the time, and God bless you, every one), you have...accrued...stacks of things. Graded papers. Ungraded papers. Projects. Post-It Notes. Books. Over the next week, do the kind of cleaning that you do at the end of the school year. A purge of the archaeological layers of schoolness that have already built up between September and now. Get the graded things back to students, finish the grading of the ones that you haven't. Get it out of the way so that when you come back in January, it's to a clean classroom. I know for a fact that I won't be losing weight over the holidays, but I can move a metric ton of stuff out of my classroom and feel good about it.
3. Let Them Have a Break, Let You Have a Break.
I have my students do a long-term project every quarter. It's the only "homework" thing I ever have them do. Even then, we do a lot of that in class. And I have it due the week before Winter Break. I don't want my project (which I think is valuable and important and good) to ruin the holidays for my students and their families. I want to build goodwill with those families, not cause contention within them. So anything big, I'd have due before the break. The other piece of this is that you, yourself, deserve a break. I used to bring home those 210 (yeah. Utah. Big classes.) middle school projects, and would spend days grading them. I'd wait until after Christmas, but it would be a big, stressful chunk of my own holidays. When you lock your classroom door, do everything you can to leave that classroom behind you until January. It's not easy, because even when I'm not teaching, I'm a teacher. I'm always thinking about it. And that's cool. But take a break. You need it.
4. Be Healthy.
(He said, while caffeinating at 6:34 AM) we've already had one wave of flu hit us this season, things are a little congesty, it's cold and smoggy outside, it's dark and somewhat depressing. Find something each day of winter break that will improve your health. Your physical health, your emotional health. For some of us, that's doing things with family. But. For some of us, it's saying no to a family member asking us to do one more thing. Maybe it's only spending six hours with family instead of ten. (It sounds like I have more family issues than I actually do.) Sleep in. Get up early. Go to the gym. Go on a hike. Play with your dog. Eat some fruit and nuts instead of candy. There are as many ways to make healthy choices as there are to completely bottom out during the Winter Break...do what you can to make that break restful, but also rejuvenating. Taking a break doesn't mean going on a sugar bender for ten days.
5. Get Yourself Something Completely Unnecessary.
Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, they all have an element of gift-giving. Of generosity, of fun. If you don't celebrate any of those things
All of the images in this post are from P.J. McQuade, who has the most geektastic Christmas cards and ornaments you've ever seen. P.J.'s Etsy site is the place to buy them. I don't know P.J. But dang. Good stuff.