Balancing fun and productivity in the classroom this Christmas

Dec 7, 2016 | Posted by Impact Teachers

It’s nearly the time of year when teachers are faced with a big dilemma – do they promote fun or productivity in the classroom this Christmas? If you teach the very young then you may already know the answer. Likewise, if you teach young adults you probably won’t need to think twice. However, for all those in between, it marks the beginning of a tricky few weeks. Luckily, it is possible to strike the perfect balance between education and entertainment this holiday season. Here are a few nifty tricks to help.

Don’t be a scrooge

This one applies to all those teaching in the UK. You will want to create an atmosphere that at least – in some way – embodies the spirit of Christmas. You may not think this is important but it really is. Winter is the flu season and that means your class will be dealing with nagging coughs, runny noses and sore throats. You don’t want to give people a reason to skip a day at the slightest hint of illness. Instead, you want your class to think they can persevere because school is a nice place to be.

Decorate your classroom

OK, so this one isn’t as demanding as it sounds. It’s not about spending hours upon hours putting up the perfect tree. Instead, you can simply get away with a little bit of tinsel here and there. Again, this trick should hopefully go some way to keeping attendance high at a time when it is liable to fall. As well, there is no need to get your class involved in the decoration process because this will take away their precious learning time. Just let them turn up for school and see the place has been transformed after hours.

Christmas literature

If you regularly set reading, then make sure the texts are centered around Christmas. You can’t go wrong with a book like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Dickens has been known to appear on many exam syllabuses over the years so this way you are getting your class reading about the festive season and becoming accustomed with world-renowned authors before they’ll have to tackle novels like Great Expectations.

Creative writing

The ability to write creativity is very valuable – but sometimes it gets lost within the modern day school system. Therefore, why not introduce it while there is more free time around Christmas? Remind your class that you’re not asking them to work out difficult sums for maths or read tricky texts for English. Instead, you want them to express themselves and use their imagination. To inject a little extra fun into the task, tell them to write a story about Christmas.

Tests with a twist

Is it cruel to hold a test around Christmas? Obviously, some of your pupils will think so. But it is vital that you are still measuring people’s learning capacity on the run up to December 25th. Try taking the pressure off by making the test about Christmas. For instance, if you want to hold a spelling test then quiz your class on words like Rudolph, reindeer and Bethlehem.

The history of Christmas

What is Christmas? If you ask your class they will likely tell you it’s about the birth of Jesus. They’ll also say that it’s now about traditions such as decorating trees and homes. Hopefully, you can spark their curiosity by asking this question and get them thinking a little bit about history. It should mark the perfect opportunity to set them a project about culture and history.

Provide the class with options

It’s often pointless introducing a new topic right before Christmas. Therefore, many teachers prefer to go over previous subjects and check their class still has an understanding of it. Be careful not to jump in feet first with your own agenda. Instead, ask your class what they would like to revise. Admittedly, this isn’t really fun for your class. However, you can bet it will be more fun – not to mention more productive – than telling your pupils what to do without giving them a say.

Organise a party

The prospect of an end-of-term party can motivate even the most uninspired pupils. You can use the bash to your advantage by only allowing pupils to attend if they have maintained good behaviour, worked hard and achieved satisfactory results in their tests. This should ensure that your class remains productive on the run up to the party even though it’s the festive season.

Balance is key

Whether you’re teaching five-year-olds or teaching 16-year-olds, some balance is required over Christmas. First and foremost your job is to teach so you’ll want to maintain some sort of order and routine in the classroom. But it’s more than OK to mix things up a bit and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year too.

Impact Teachers
Written by Impact Teachers
From 2005 to the present, I, along with my partners, led Impact through a period of growth unprecedented in the UK’s recruitment industry.