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6 Ways Principals Are Finding Joy This Holiday Season

Hint: emergency chocolate!

Female hands hold heart on Christmas tree.

The three weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break can feel like three years. Many of us become the type of people who cheer for Friday and make snarky comments about Mondays, even if that’s not our baseline. We’re working so hard to keep everyone else joyful and happy that we might find ourselves feeling more like the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge. So how are we going to get through the next few weeks? We headed to our Principal Life Facebook group to ask school leaders and principals how they are finding joy and light as we count down the days to a well-deserved winter break.

1. “I like to watch a funny video, pet my dog, read for fun, have some tea, and sit quietly.” —Wendy

The holidays are all about giving and thinking about others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself. We love Wendy’s idea to start a self-care jar full of activities that take 15 minutes or less. She shares that she feels more joyful and rested when she takes this time for herself. 

2. “Schedule whatever will light you up when you see it in your schedule.” —Angela

When we put something in our calendar, we make a commitment to ourselves and anyone else involved that we will show up. We schedule meetings, doctor appointments, and workouts, so why don’t we ever schedule rest? Doing nothing is doing something. This time of year, it is especially important to prioritize your mental and physical health. One of the principals in our group, Angela, puts something in her calendar for her every day. “I take a walk. I actually sit down for lunch or meet up with a friend after work.”

3. “I write 3-4 appreciation notes on Fridays before I leave school.” —Liann

Sometimes we are so exhausted from the week that all we want to do is shut our computer down and stop thinking about school. If you want to end the week on a positive rather than a negative, try Liann’s strategy. She always leaves Friday on a high note (no pun intended!). Teachers and students will love getting a hand-written note from you, and these little acts of kindness will remind you how much your school community means to you. Looking for inspiration: check out our holiday cards for teachers

4. “At the end of the day, I write five things I am grateful for in a journal I call ‘Today’s Joys.'” —Meredith

It’s no surprise that writing down what we are grateful for improves our mood and helps keep things in perspective. Meredith has made gratitude journaling a daily practice. “It’s not always easy to come up with five things quickly, but by the time I am done, it’s a good reset,” she shares. We love her idea to keep a record. If you are feeling down or negative, you can flip through your journal, read what you’ve written, and you’ll get a good mood booster and a reminder that you have a lot to feel good about. Here are more ideas for how to create an evening routine that brings you joy. 

5. “Interact with classrooms as much as possible.” —Nicole

Paperwork is a principal’s least favorite part of the job, but it’s still part of the job. Get out of your office as much as possible. Visit classrooms and talk to students (whether you are in person or virtual). Offer to do a holiday-themed read aloud or ask teachers what they need help with (we love this December Random Acts of Kindness Calendar, which is full of fun ideas). Know that you aren’t the only one who feels this way. Nicole shares, “paperwork can tie you down. It becomes mundane and overbearing. Don’t let it!”

6. “Keep chocolate in your desk for emergencies.” —Pam

Feel like listening to “All I Want for Christmas” on repeat? Do it. Want to dress up like an elf and greet students when they come to school? Great! Don’t underestimate how important it is to keep things light and fun as you count down the days. After all, the kids and teachers are just as ready for winter break as you. Also, eat chocolate even if it isn’t an emergency. ‘Tis the season! 

How are you, as school leaders and principals, finding joy and light this holiday season? Come share in our Principal Life Facebook Group

Plus, Focus on Teachers With a School Holiday Countdown

6 Ways Principals Are Finding Joy This Holiday Season

Posted by Julie Mason

Julie Mason is a Senior Editor at WeAreTeachers. She taught middle and high school English, and is a blended and personalized learning instructional coach. She loves reading a book in one sitting, good coffee, and spending time with her husband and sons.

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