October Blues Busters!
Holiday blues are one thing but the October Blues has me heart-broken! After an optimistic, dedicated start in September the run up to October half term can start to feel a little tougher. Winter draws near, exhaustion creeps up and some student complacency starts to settle in.
Especially for new teachers, a sense of having a ‘competence crisis’ can take over as you adjust to the fast-paced, high-pressured, demanding world of education.
Having researched methods of trying to tackle these October Blues there have been a few recurring suggestions:
(Somehow!) Find time to be in the present. Remind yourself where you are and what you’re doing right now.
Journal, track or somehow monitor your emotions regularly. ‘Check-in’ with yourself.
Remind yourself of your successes so far, not your seemingly unattainable to-do list.
Using these ideas, I’ve come up with some creative low to no-prep activities to lift your spirits and keep you smiling through to Christmas and beyond!
Quick spirit lifter!
Make and sing a song
So, I’m aware that a lot of primary school teaching can revolve around song time but I’m not talking about another Youtube link or overused nursery rhyme. In fact, I’m suggesting you recycle and revamp a nursery rhyme or a song you already know!
For a quick fix, take a tune your class are familiar with and ask them to create their own lyrics. The key tricks to achieving this are:
Absolutely use a song you know. Even if you use the same one every time you do this activity. You need to know the rhythm and how many syllables to fill. (You don’t need to know the number off the top of your head, but be able to hum or feel the rhythm of the original lyrics. You’ll see what I mean with the examples below.)
Don’t worry about the lyrics - at all. The sillier, the better. They’re meant to be a bit rubbish - that’s what makes them funny.
Repeat phrases! It’s easier to make, and easier for everyone to sing along to.
A few examples:
(London Bridge is Falling Down)
We all ate some chips for lunch, chips for lunch, chips for lunch
We all ate some chips for lunch. We had ketchup!
(Incy Wincy Spider)
I have got new trainers, they are green and blue
I love my new trainers, I love them more than you!
My trainers make me run fast - zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom!
I have got new trainers, they are green and blue.
The spontaneity for this activity encourages you to be in the moment, and engage with your students without judgement or assessment in anyway. A song about a sandwich, new shoes or the class pet might just be the funny five minutes you need.
Keep a journal
Journalling was something that came highly recommended in helping ease the burden of the first term. We’re all aware of its benefits as an outlet for thoughts, emotions, anxieties and so on but how many of us ever actually commit to writing one?
Set it as a set piece of class or homework in which you have to participate, too. That way, there’s no running away from it.
Just like a reading record, allocate 10 - 15 minutes whereby yourself and your students write about how you’re feeling about your day. Some circle time might be an opportunity to share any of these thoughts. Or invite students to present some of their thoughts and stories, should they wish. Or take it one step further and invite students to act out their writings!
What a good week it’s been!
Instead of (or in addition to) awarding individual students with Scrolls of Merit and Star of the Weekl, how about discussing or presenting ‘What a good week it’s been!’ with everyone in your class at the end of every week?
And I don’t mean Which learning outcomes have been attained this week? I simply want to know What have you and your class completed? Curriculum based, or not. A list might look something like this:
Learned our 3 times tables
Finished our class story book
Drew pictures of our favourite characters
Listened to music whilst getting changed for PE
Played games at lunch time
Studied butterflies and their life cycle
Had a fun music lesson
Tidied up our arts and crafts really, really fast
Accepting these suggestions from students not only acts as a review of the week for them but they are literally spelling out to you, everything you have put work into, planned, organised, taken care of and implemented in just 5 days. What a pat on the back!
Why not invite someone to present these lists as if they were a TV game show host handing out prizes, or invite a different student each week to do so:
Welcome back to another episode of What A Great Week It’s Been! On this week’s show we remind ourselves that we have learned our three times tables. Can I get a round of applause?! We finished our class story book - finally! We drew pictures…!
Easier said than done, I’m sure. But challenge yourself to give it a go! Alternatively, you could create posters of these each week and collate them at the end of each half term to remind yourself of everything YOU have achieved.