5 ways for leaders to spread some Christmas cheer

It's been a difficult term, says Melissa Hall – so here are some ways to spread festive joy in your department
10th December 2020, 3:00pm
Melissa Hall

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5 ways for leaders to spread some Christmas cheer

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/5-ways-leaders-spread-some-christmas-cheer
Teacher Wellbeing: How School Leaders Can Spread Christmas Cheer Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic

As we head into the final weeks of term, which can be gruelling even under normal circumstances, we know that teachers and leaders alike are feeling the strain. With increased workloads, ever-changing Covid-secure procedures and the recent news of pay freezes, it may not exactly feel like the most wonderful time of the year.

So what can middle leaders do to spread a little cheer amongst the chaos?

Whilst annual holiday parties, carol services and themed assemblies will be sadly cancelled this year, there are ways to get creative and rescue the Christmas spirit for both lovers of Christmas and those simply seeking comfort at the end of a long term.

Teacher wellbeing: How to get staff into the Christmas spirit

Here are five ideas to bring some cheer to your teams:

1. Virtual parties and socially distanced fun

Whether you're Zoomed out or not, use the array of virtual options available to your advantage. Christmas quizzes, wine tastings, virtual spa nights - there are many ways to bring some cheer, even if self-isolating, which means there is something to look forward to that won't get cancelled.

You can even hire in some help and socially distance within your teams. A delivery of wreath-making or other creative supplies can easily be arranged from a local business and dropped at reception, and single-serve food or individually wrapped chocolates and cakes are a great way to create a safe party atmosphere.

2. Deck the halls

Brighten those classrooms and corridors! Make it a team effort and get competitive across school. Put wreaths on doors, trees up in offices, or use your subject as inspiration. 

If time isn't on your side, involve students instead. Give them jobs such as decorating their form boards or making decorations so your staff don't feel they have to. This has been a tough year for students as well and a little bit of normality at school can do a world of good. 

Alternatively, host a Christmas jumper day or something along those lines, so that everyone can feel included, even if they don't feel up for decorating this year. 

However, while you may have had your tree up since July, no one wants to be forced to add another task to their to-do list and some may not be feeling in a celebratory mood or even celebrate the season, so be aware of this and respect the wishes of all. 

3. Secret Santa and alternatives

Love it or hate it, it is an office staple at this time of year. However, be sure to read the room and don't make what can be an enjoyable occasion another chore. Maybe your staff would rather chip in that fiver to buy a microwave, mini-fridge or a coffee machine for the staffroom to make life easier in the dark month of January, rather than receiving and giving small, potentially unwanted gifts. Also, be mindful of religious views and financial strains at this time of year, and don't chase for contributions.

4. Think practically

Maybe Christmas isn't on everyone's priority list and maybe they don't celebrate the season, but there are a variety of ways to make this end of term easier. Could that meeting be an email? Could the timing for that twilight CPD be flexible? Support your staff by helping to prevent end-of-term burn out. Spacing out assessments, meetings and deadlines so end-of-term "bunching" doesn't happen is the best gift you could give this Christmas.

5. Be a positive presence

It's easy to get bogged down with admin, deadlines and stress, especially as a middle leader. Try your best to be a positive force for your teams. In the words of Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol "...while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour." 

Engage in conversations with your team every morning, give positive feedback on anything great you see happening and, if you can, write personalised cards to thank your teams for their hard work during what has arguably been one of the profession's toughest years.

Melissa Hall is an English curriculum leader and specialist leader in education

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