The past two years of teaching have been TOUGH. We are all extremely tired and need a break. I see posts all over social media saying “use your sick days!” and “don’t feel guilting for taking a mental health day!” But here’s the thing- many of those posts are from a) people outside the world of education, or b) have left the classroom. They don’t know what it’s like to lose your prep hour regularly because there are no subs. They don’t know what it’s like to have only a few sick days saved up, and you need to save them in case you get COVID or your kids’ daycare shuts down due to COVID and you’re stuck at home for over a week. It’s stressful!
So here’s what I’m here to tell you: Try taking a mental health day, while at school. A mental health day doesn’t have to be at home in your pajamas (although that sounds amazing), but can simply be a break from teaching. Here are some ideas of things students can do while you clean your desk, get caught up on grading, or get your planning for the next week done.
How to take a mental health day without burning a sick day:
- Take a virtual field trip. If your students have computers, have them explore a part of the world (or solar system!) and write up what they see. Here is a list of websites to choose from.
- Show a documentary related to your curriculum. Here is a list of science movies and documentaries to choose from broken down by content area.
- Complete an interactive diagram. I’ve created these diagrams for earth science and biology. They are all web-based (no login or software needed) and include a Google form self-correcting quiz they can take at the end.
- Complete a webquest. Search around Google and you will find plenty of webquests available for various topics.
- Make an infographic or one-pager. Are you nearing the end of a unit? Instead of assessing students with a multiple-choice test, have them create an infographic or one-pager showcasing their learning. (If you aren’t familiar with one-pagers, check out this blog post).
- Play a review game. The best review games are ones that are student based, where you don’t even have to click a button on the smart board. Just pass out the materials and go! I’m also a big fan of review Jenga. I found mini Jenga sets at the dollar store. I pass out a Jenga game and a set of review questions or task cards. Once they complete a question they get to pull a block, and if they get the question wrong they lose their turn. It gets a little loud in class, but they have a blast and you can sit back and relax for a bit. Blooket is also a great option because you can set a timer for each round and just let it run.
This is me telling you that it’s okay to sit down every once in a while and just take a break. With all of the ideas listed above, you don’t have to worry about an administrator walking in. They are all content based!
Hang in there my friend. And as always, rock on!