The (Winter) Breaking Point

Beth Maloney Books, Education, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Literacy, Professional Development

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After teaching for sixteen years, I know teaching is both an art and a science.  I practiced the art of teaching this past week leading up to winter break as I kept my students learning and focused with long-anticipated events and fifth grade traditions like Barter Day and the Colonial Fair.  But after the whirlwind of holiday anticipation, 11th hour questions of “How can I fix my grade?” and generally scraping students from the ceilings the past few weeks, I needed a break or I was going to break.  My patience has waned, I’m feeling burnt out and empty.  I’m overdue for time to focus on my family and interests that don’t involve school.  Yoga and hiking!  Maybe even a nap or two!

Over the winter break I’ll take time to invest in the science of teaching.  I will read some middle school books to have book commercials ready for my readers who’re also chipping away at their reading lists.  I’ll throw in some professional reading to refuel my fire.  I’ll catch up with #edchats, finally plan a flipped lesson and figure out how to use Periscope in the classroom.

I’ll spend time over winter break honing my art, too.  The great thing about extended breaks from school are that teachers are able to come up for air out of the constant bombardment that is life in the classroom.  Weekends filled with laundry, grading and grad school homework just don’t cut it as far as refreshing my creative juices.  Winter break allows me to clear my head and reflect.

I’ll be a better teacher for taking time for myself and investing in the art and science of my profession.  I’ll happily board the roller coaster ride that is the second semester with excitement, patience and a loving heart.  But beware, students.  By January, Mrs. Maloney will be caught up with sleep, voice rested, and full of Pinterest ideas!


I am in my twentieth year of teaching and enjoy every minute of my time in the classroom. I have taught kindergarten, third grade, and currently teach fifth-grade science and social studies in Surprise, Arizona. I am an enthusiastic public school advocate. I am a National Board Certified Teacher and a Candidate Support Provider for the Arizona K12 Center, where I coach and mentor other teachers undergoing the rigorous National Board certification. I am the past president and co-founder of the Arizona National Board Certified Teacher Network and president and founder of the Arizona Chapter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. I am honored to be Arizona’s 2014 Teacher of the Year and appreciate having the opportunity to represent the teachers of Arizona. I love talking with and learning from other teachers around the world. I strongly believe that teacher voice in the public education dialogue is the best way to make change for the better for all students.

Comments 4

  1. Danielle Brown

    Thank you for sharing what has been mulling around in my head for the past few days. This break is a break that is well timed and needed. This is the perfect time to spend with families, knock some things off of your to do list, and focus on the art of teaching with a clear head and lofty goals! Enjoy your break!

  2. Cheryl Redfield

    I greatly appreciate you raising awareness about the need to “come up for air”. Too often we make our work 24/7/365. This leads to burnout as well as disillusionment! Hope you enjoyed a wonderful break. Brightest of New Years to you and yours!

  3. Sandy Merz

    Don’t keep it a secret – what have you been reading? Me? I’m working through The Complete Guide to Article Writing by Naveed Saleh and Writing Begins with the Breath by Larraine Herring. Next up: Fire up your writing brain by Susan Reynolds.

    1. Beth Maloney

      I read The Hot Zone, and kid’s books: finished the Origami Yoda series with Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus, El Deafo and The Nightmarys by Dan Poblocki.

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