The Teacher’s Toolkit: The Winter Slog

Bleary-eyed and grouchier than usual, teachers across the nation are stumbling back into their classrooms all across the nation today. Some of them are trying to muster the courage to face all new students as they begin a new semester, but most of them are faced with the (perhaps) more daunting task of getting our students to recall anything discussed in class before the break.

We are entering the part of the school calendar that all teachers with any sense have come to dread above all others; the long slog between winter break and spring break. These months are dark, cold, and filled with students all lying about how awesome their spring break is going to be.

Because of the singularly depressing nature of this stretch of the school year, I’m going to share with you some helpful tips on how to get through these next few months with a relatively small amount of emotional scarring.

Tip 1: Make friends with someone not as good as you. – It doesn’t really matter what you do better than this other person, so long as it is something about which you can talk for 5 minutes. It is absolutely amazing how good you can feel talking down to someone who doesn’t know as much about speed-knitting as you do! Of course the ultimate symbiotic relationship would be to find someone who is better than you at something else so that you can both leave the conversation feeling unbelievably smug, but that’s almost as likely as buying a lunch in D.C. in under 30 minutes.

Tip 2: Find a good hiding spot. – Every workplace has spots where it is perfectly legitimate to be during the work day, but hardly anyone ever goes and these places make excellent hiding spots. Bring some papers or your laptop to make it seem like you are doing work (just in case someone does find you) and just zone out for an hour or so. I realize that some of you overachievers out there don’t have any personal experience with zoning out, but careful analysis of the students in the back of the classroom should give you enough of a hint to get started. Some of you are no doubt hoping that I’ll let slip my hiding spot here in the Palace of Pointification, but I’m way too crafty for that so you’ll just have to find your own hiding spot! Just don’t attempt to use anywhere totally obvious, like the faculty lounge!

Tip 3: My advice to you: start drinking heavily. – Of course Bluto was talking about a different situation entirely, but I don’t know that it doesn’t apply here as well. One of the big dangers to working indoors during the winter months is dehydration. The dry, artificially heated air can just suck the water right out of you which makes proper hydration a real concern. Of course what you drink and how much is a personal decision and it is going to vary from person to person, but as long as you keep in mind that you are drinking for your health and not for fun, it should keep things from getting too out of control.

It is entirely possible that I’ve forgotten some excellent tips for getting through these next few months, but I have found these three to be invaluable. If anyone can think of any more, I’d love to hear them… all in the name of helping us through this “most wonderful time of the year” of course!

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