Avoiding the ‘November Dip’ and maintaining your sanity

The November Dip is an annual occurrence in the Northern Hemisphere school year where teachers start to lose motivation before the big holiday at the new year. November is physically hard for most people in the North. You go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. The daylight hours, such as they are, are brief and shrouded with clouds.

For teachers, the high enthusiasm of year planning in early September has started to run dry. The new year seems like an age away, even as the shops play holiday songs on repeat. The students are tired, the teachers are tired. It’s a tough month. But if you know what’s coming you can prepare:

1) Get your lesson plans in order before November. If you make a medium-to-long term plan until the end of term, you can fall back on it when your energy starts to flag.

2) Invest in box sets or streaming subscriptions. You are going to need entertainment when the evenings draw in.

3) Have a day off. Once a week, do nothing for school. If you’re feeling adventurous, unplug completely from technology to give your head some space.

4) Teach your students self-reliance and independence when you have the energy at the start of the year so that they can take over some of the legwork later! One of my greatest teaching moments was when a child walked towards me, then turned left, picked up a dictionary, said “OH!” and sat back down again. It seems like nothing but I had done a lot of scaffolding for that moment to occur.

5) Be prepared to give your students a break too! Have lessons in November that are relaxing for learners. For example, students like to make their own e-books, videos or design their dream ‘x’. These lessons are relaxing because students can set their own pace and work on things they find most interesting.

6) Consider having some instructional videos that students can watch outside of class/during class if they need you to explain something again. This saves your voice and has the bonus of a pause/rewind button for students who are probably finding it just as hard to keep focused in November.