Winter break is over. We have about 18 more weeks of madness, which includes standardized testing season. Winter can get long and dark in January and February. So here are a few easy and inexpensive ways I plan to keep my sanity through the back-to-school slump.

1. Prank my colleagues.

Gif of a stapler in a plate of Jello and the words "Dammit, Jim! He put my stuff in Jello again!"

I might get in trouble. It will be worth it.

2. Create a drinking game specific to various class periods.

Gif of a teacher drinking from a small Dixie cup

Only it will NOT actually be alcohol. It will be water. I’ll stay hydrated, and my skin will look amazing! (I’ll just have to make sure I have a passing period during which I can use the bathroom.) Take a drink every time Brandon tries to sidetrack class with a ridiculous question! Drink whenever you have to shush someone!

3. Use my students as pawns for my own amusement.

Gif of a teacher dancing with his students.

But not in a mean way. Two of my seventh graders recently started dating, and I may or may not have offered homework passes to a group of students if they followed the new couple around at recess and sang “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” It made me a better teacher, at least for the afternoon.

4. Invest in a range of hot beverages that can be consumed while teaching.

Gif of a woman drinking from a large coffee cup.

I’m thinking flavored creamers, hot tea, K-Cups … The world is my latte.

5. Assign something fun.

Character from the Simpsons saying "But this project has no scientific merit!"

I’m going to challenge my students to make a movie, draw with sidewalk chalk, or choreograph an interpretive dance about The Great Gatsby. Anything goes, really, as long as it’s fun and easy to grade. Kids need a mental health boost, too.

6. Find an excuse to make kids feed me.

Gif of a kid in a cooking competition rolling bread.

I always do a unit on culture around this time, and I allow students to bring in treats to share with others. Encourage students to be creative! Make edible maps! Do some math with marshmallows! Bulk up for winter. I give you my blessing.

7. Incorporate more music into my class.

Gif of a man singing.

I offered my kids the chance to go outside five minutes before the end of class to play in a snow flurry … but only if every member of the class sang along to a karaoke version of “Let It Go.” I have no regrets.

Teaching during the winter will never be easy, but there are ways to survive. And if you find yourself at spring break a few pounds heavier and with a note or two in your permanent file, it means you’ve done it right!

Do you have any other tested ways I can keep my sanity? I’d love to hear in the comments.

7 Ways I Plan to Keep My Sanity Until Spring Break