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Stay flexible

Being able to bend it like Beckham is essential to get through the festive period and stay sane, says Sara Bubb

How's your flexible friend? No, I'm not talking about credit cards, useful though they are at this time of year, but your planning. Are you staying on top of it? It will get increasingly hard as the term goes on as all semblance of normality disappears into a spray of snowdust.

But do not give up on structure; kids need it. Disruption and relaxation of rules brings worse behaviour, so life will be easier if you keep pupils working up until the last minute. Plan work that does not take too long to mark or you will be exhausted. Try to be organised so that you can be flexible because you need to expect the unexpected. The only certainty at this time of year is uncertainty. In the run up to any festival events you'll have lots of lessons cancelled, curtailed or interrupted because of practices and overrunning assemblies.

There will also be plenty of wet breaktimes, which can be a nightmare.

Keeping pupils occupied, out of mischief and ready for learning when lessons start is tough, whether they are four or 14.

You are unlikely to cover as much of the curriculum as you want so you need to prioritise, think about what to cut, and have plenty of time-fillers up your sleeve. That's where ideas from more experienced colleagues come in handy. They'll have worksheets with a festive flavour, going back to the good old days of the Banda copying machine, for you to use.

Try playing hangman on the board using key words that relate to whatever you've been working on. Drawing on scrap paper is a favourite, but a focus or purpose helps concentrate their minds. Are you making the most of your interactive whiteboard to show a quick film or play a game on?

As well as the standard Connect Four type games, you could set up some games on the computers. What about music to calm them down or to get them dancing off their excess energy?

Although this time of year is about thinking of others, you need to look after yourself which means taking care to eat well. There's sure to be a fair amount of chocolate about, which will give you a quick surge of the feel-good chemical serotonin. Don't get stressed. Have a laugh Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction

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