Staying productive over winter break: Readings, videos, exercises, and happiness

This week Matt Bachand, one of Mass Insight Education’s Engagement Directors, takes the Mass Insight blog reins to suggest some very productive ways to stay busy over your winter break. Enjoy!


What we’ll do (some of) over our winter break. 

Winter break is just around the corner, and we’re guessing you’re just as busy as we are right now. However, once the planning and preparations are done, we are able to sit back and just take in all of the travel, feasting, celebrations, and visiting of friends and family. After a few moments of peace and quiet, some of you might find yourself thinking, “now how do I fill this free time?”

MIE is here to help. Should you find yourself unnerved by a lack of constant commotion at any point in the winter break, we humbly submit the following as a list of possible ways to occupy your time. We’re sure we won’t get to all of these. We also welcome further suggestions!

Catch up on some reading. 

Are you caught up on all of those professional journals? If so, we’re jealous. If not, here are a few things in our pile that we’d love to talk to you about in early January:

The current issue of Principal, the National Association of Elementary School Principals magazine, is full of articles about supporting teachers this month. One we’re particularly intrigued by is “Better Together,” which talks about working with teacher leaders. The AFT magazine, American Educator, is getting into the nuts and bolts of CTE education in its fall issue. The NEA profiles their new officers—who all women of color—in NEAtoday’s cover story.

If you’re looking for something a little more removed, the new policy book “Moneyball for Government” looks at the use of program evaluation principles in government programs at all levels of government. It’s not just educators who are being encouraged to focus on outcomes. If you’re looking for something a little-less associated with a Brad Pitt film, we’re intrigued by “Show me the Evidence,” which talks about small high schools, among other areas of interest.

No one would fault you for curling up with a hot beverage and a good book that has nothing to do with your work. There are lists of the best books of 2014 available from many places. We’re looking at Goodreads, the American Library Association’s 2014 notable children’s books, and the ALA’s 2014 notable books list. If you only have a little bit of free time and want to read a poem, we’ve got you covered.

Surf the internet for some videos!

Of course there are any number of TED talks that education minded folks would find interesting. We’re particularly intrigued by the Fordham Institute’s December 2nd event on Education for Upward Mobility. With four panels and a keynote, we’ll probably be snacking on this conference all break long.

Commit to some new years resolution steps.  

Few places can disrupt your resolution to get healthy in the new year faster than the break room at work. Here are some easy at-work strategies to help burn some of the calories that await when you can’t avoid your colleagues’ leftover snickerdoodles next month. You can stand up at meetings more and improve collaboration and creativity. You can consider using a standing desk to avoid the potential health hazards of sitting. You might also think about having more walking meetings (bonus TED talk!).

Express gratitude. 

Finally, there is an emerging body of knowledge that says gratitude can improve happiness. We at MIE are grateful for our colleagues, our families, our clients, and our partners for the work they do for students every day. We wish all of you well as you enter 2015 refreshed and ready to get back to work.