The “winter blues” is not only a real problem, but can be an annual visitor to your school if you don’t intentionally take measures to combat the negativity and low morale that are symptomatic of this condition. If your students and teachers are absent more often, people are generally more cranky and on edge, and the positive energy in the building is coming to an icy halt — your school may be coming down with a case of the “winter blues.” If we understand the potential issue, what the problem looks like, and have a plan to take action — we can minimize its impact on our school and keep the energy for learning at a strong, healthy level.
The reality is that Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real problem that impacts millions of people every year. When the hustle and bustle of the holidays come to a close, this couples with decreased exposure to sunlight for a perfect storm that results in sluggish and cranky students and teachers. Our efforts to combat this yearly period of the school year known as the “Gray Days” can go a long way toward keeping the climate of positivity alive and well in your building.
Here are some practical ideas to keep spirits high and learning fun:
Sometimes we need to look for things to celebrate throughout the school year. We shouldn’t need to look very long or hard because there are always tons of reasons to celebrate in our schools. Some are large and some are small, but there is rarely a shortage of things to celebrate. It could be as small as perfect attendance in a classroom or which grade-level read the most books in a week. Just look for small victories and be the mouthpiece to let your school and community know when they happen.
School Pride Day
Is it ever a bad time to celebrate your school, wear the colors and gear that show you are proud of where you’re from? Build some unity and have some fun with a school pride day that says, “We are all on the same team!” It’s free and take little or no time to organize, but the message is priceless.
Thank You Note Day
What are we thankful for? During the gray days it’s easy to forget the wonderful things we have going on and focus on everything that isn’t so great. Turn one day’s school-wide writing assignment into the art of writing a “Thank You” note. Not only are we practicing a real life skill, but we are also cultivating a thankful mindset in our building and taking time to be intentional about focusing on all that us right in our world. Deliver those thank you notes to other people in the building and watch the attitude catch fire.
Break up the monotony of the school day with a dynamic speaker to address your student body. It can be an inspirational character assembly, an entertaining science group, a talent show, or a loud and boisterous pep assembly. There is not better time to schedule a speaker for an assembly than the cold, dark winter months.
30-Day Happy Teacher Challenge
When we focus on the negative, that’s what we’ll get more of. Encourage your staff to take part in the 30-Day Happy Teacher Challenge. My school and I have had fun with this during the month of February, and I’ve even attached incentives in the form of a “Jeans Day Coupon” for every 10 days that they complete. You can download the one-page calendar of activities for free by clicking here.