Mr T’s NQT tips for switching off over Christmas break

The Christmas holiday is a busy time for us all; family to see, presents to wrap and it also comes at the end of a full on term which means in school plays, discos and an explosion of glitter.

Winter break is an important time to rest and recharge, in preparation for the spring term.  Here are my key pieces of advice to help NQTs and new teachers switch off over the Christmas holiday:

Get prepped early

Whilst the last week is often a blur of events, there can be a steep decline in marking. (Unless your school have a feedback policy for Christmas decorations.) I always tried to use that after school time in the last week, whilst waiting for plays/discos to start, to start preparing for the spring term – gathering resources, arranging the new topic display, planning the first week back. This meant that the Christmas holidays could be a real break.

Spend time with family

Now this is a difficult one – sometimes too much time with family can make things worse.  But it is a time for you to prioritise maintaining the social connections that may have suffered due to school workloads. It is a time to  focus on rebuilding links with people.These connections keep us ‘normal’ and help us maintain our well-being when times get tough.

Get it out of the way

With the best will in the world, you should be doing no school work over the holidays. It is time for you. However, that is not always a helpful approach, as some people find doing nothing causes them guilt, so find what works for you. If you must work, my advice would be to do it as soon as possible at the start of the break so that you can enjoy the rest of the time off guilt-free.  

Leave the work bag at school

This is a controversial one. If leaving it at school seems a bit extreme, leave it in the boot of the car. (It’s there if you need it, but not sat in the hallway staring at you to peep inside.)


I find the Christmas break to be one of those where school work no longer interrupts my sleep. It is usually interrupted by ‘how on Earth are we going to fit everyone around the table on Christmas day?’ instead. Listen to your body, have a lie in, seize the opportunity for an afternoon nap. Your body knows what it needs so listen to it. 

Eat and drink – lots

This holiday is the first extended break of the school year – it is a good time to get your body into normal eating and drinking habits again. No more running down a corridor with half a stale ham sandwich in your mouth desperately trying to photocopy your afternoon resources. Once again listen to your body – if it needs two mince pies instead of one, go for it. Enjoy food and drink (it’s not a school night so why not) and try not to worry about the extra pounds – they will keep you warmer on playground duty!

The Christmas break is not always a restful holiday but it should be a replenishing one. Spend time playing games, being silly, and engage in general merriment. School will still be there in January but quality time with friends and family won’t. (Not until February half term anyway.)

Be kind to yourself over the winter break as you’ve survived the longest, and toughest, term of the year. You have earned the break – enjoy it.

About the author

Mr T NQT SupportMr T is an Experienced NQT Mentor who wants to share expertise and support students and newly qualified teachers as they navigate their early career.

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