Novelty escalates behavior. Teachers know this all too well around this time of year, having to work very hard to keep student behaviors in check.
The weeks leading up to a holiday break often bring out the good, the bad, and the ugly in us all. The good is usually evidenced in the overall holiday mood and cheerfulness of individuals. There are also holiday celebrations, programs, and opportunities for gift giving and receiving. These factors can highlight the good, but can also have a direct impact on escalating the bad and the ugly when it comes to student behaviors.
We all thrive on routine. Herein lies the problem. During the holiday seasons, there are numerous interruptions, which makes adhering to a consistent schedule very difficult. Continuous change can really escalate the behavior of our students. [Imagine if you had to change your driving route to school every day and were informed to never be late. My guess is your anxiety level would rise and your behavior become more volatile.]
When we feel an internal loss of control, we often look for an external source for comfort. Teachers, you are that source. Your words, emotional state, and attitude have a huge impact on how students handle all the changes and novelty evident during the holiday season. Small changes can have a huge impact. For example, rather than highlighting the break from school, emphasize the return to schedule, After our short winter break, we are going to be doing this when we return
Around this time of year, many individuals focus on the giving of presents. My recommendation is that you instead concentrate on giving students your calm and focused presence. I feel confident this gift will be remembered long after the holiday has passed.