Handling the Holidays (Part 1)

Original Article:

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As the holidays swing into full gear, maintaining a productive and calm atmosphere in the classroom can be challenging. Students can be more fidgety, giggly, testy, and tired at this time of year. In December, children are also often distracted by the excitement of home activities and by the stress that their parents and caregivers may be feeling. Furthermore, your classroom schedule may be disrupted by assemblies, class plays, and holiday lunches.

Morning Meeting can help. The tone that you set at the beginning of the school day can make a huge difference in how the rest of day goes. Over the next few days, I’ll post specific ideas for using each component of Morning Meeting to get your class off to a good start at this frenzied time of year. But first, here are some general concepts to keep in mind:

Be consistent about meeting time and structure.

Most students find great comfort in consistency. When Morning Meeting starts at the same time each day, has the same components each day (in the same order), and has a consistently calm and fun tone, students will be able to relax and settle in for a day of learning.

Review class rules and meeting rules.

By this time of the year, we may (mistakenly) assume that students don’t need reminders about routines and structures of the day. (“It’s December! They should know how to sit quietly for sharing by now!” I remember myself saying.) However, as students get more excited about upcoming holidays and vacation, they will need extra reminders about your class rules and Morning Meeting rules. Try asking a question like one of these before you begin Morning Meeting:

  • “What are some ways we can follow our class rule about being respectful during our greeting this morning?”
  • “Raise your hand if you can remember some ways to be a respectful listener during Morning Meeting.”
  • “I noticed that our energy level is pretty high this morning. Who would like to share a strategy for staying calm even when you’re feeling jumpy inside?”
Adjust expectations and structures as needed.

If students are really struggling with behavior and self control, you may need to rein things in a bit. Remember . . . you are their safety net! If they can’t handle the regular structures and routines, you should adjust. For instance:

  • You might use assigned seats in the Morning Meeting circle for a while. Seat students next to others with whom they can be successful, so the meeting can stay respectful and positive.
  • You might shorten the meeting. If you notice that students are having a hard time maintaining focus for the usual amount of time, shorten your meeting up. You can always stretch it back out in January!


  • Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson is an education consultant, award-winning teacher, and author of many books including What We Say and How We Say It MatterThe Well-Balanced Teacher, The First Six Weeks of School, The Research-Ready Classroom, and Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn. Learn more about Mike and his work or invite him to work with your school or district through his website: Connect with Mike on Twitter: @balancedteacher.

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    Mike Anderson
    Leading Great Learning
    Durham, NH
    Phone: +1 413.658.7907

    Leading Great Learning

    Mike Anderson is an energetic, experienced, and highly sought-after educational consultant who helps facilitate great learning in schools all over the United States and beyond. He has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, consultant, presenter, and developer and has authored many books and articles about great teaching and learning.