Returning From Winter Break: A Season of Change

By Katy Sell, M. Ed

Christmas tree next to blackboard

Holiday break is over already? Time to head back to my classroom. It is a brand new calendar year and as I sit here in my office, I’m feeling nostalgic about the last group of second graders I taught before becoming a faculty member here at GCU. I remember feeling refreshed and ready to see my students. I missed them over the break and couldn’t wait to hear all about their celebrated time away.

Graph of teacher highs and lows

Winter break had felt like it was long overdue. I needed the time off to recharge my teacher “batteries.” They needed to be rested, refreshed and reset. Remember that graph they show you as a new teacher, with feelings of highs and lows, especially come December when we’re feeling a little worn down? Well, I wouldn’t say I was disillusioned, but I was in survival mode.

The pre-break frenzy had included finishing up second quarter grades. A mid-year formal evaluation from my administrator had left me exhausted and depleted. The number of lessons, additional activities, fund raisers and other seasonal events made for an extremely busy and almost frantic time of year inside and outside the classroom.

I continued to reminisce about enjoying time with my family, friends, celebrating the holidays and being thankful for all that I had for two blissful weeks. Oddly enough, during the second week of break thoughts about my students began creeping in. How was their break going? What were we going to accomplish when we returned?

As a 10-year veteran teacher at the time, I was not surprised to be thinking about my class, but I was surprised to realize that I had started to think about them earlier and earlier over breaks as the years went on. At the end of the two-week break, I was more than ready to return to my kiddos. I was indeed, as the graph suggested, rejuvenated. Go figure!

A new calendar year brings with it the coolest transformation! Over Christmas break in the middle of second grade, the kids grow up. They sustain an incredible amount of growth over those two weeks. It is astonishing to see the changes in them after a mere 14 days. It is like a switch has been turned on, or something new has clicked for them. They have a new sense of confidence and independence that wasn’t quite as developed before the holidays. It is quite amazing to see. The second half of second grade is my favorite.

Breaking out of my reverie, I am grateful to my students, past and present. As we return to our classrooms after our well-deserved (and hopefully blissful) breaks, let’s take a close look at our students and ourselves. They have changed and grown, and we have too! When we take the time to notice these changes and appreciate them, we replenish the spirit, purpose, and drive which we bring to this noble profession.  As per the graph, we have all learned from our period of reflection and look forward with anticipation to the new year.

We are all incredible educators and I cannot wait to see what this new year will bring!

More about Katy Sell:

Katy Sell is currently full-time faculty in the College of Education at GCU. Katy has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Education. Prior to GCU, Katy worked in the field of elementary education for 10 years as a classroom teacher, mentor, master teacher and TAP evaluator at multiple Title One schools. When she is not teaching, Katy enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching movies, reading and traveling.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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