Thriving through Late Winter in the ELA Classroom

As the year begins, the school year stretches onwards shiny and golden. Everyone is fresh and excited. Then comes the beauty of fall, the rush of Halloween and the cozy holiday period.

And then... January and February.

Do you ever feel like February is three times as long as any other month? Like the only thing that could possibly make life feel OK again is for spring to come and the awkward endless cold days of late winter to be over?

It's no accident I moved to California from Northern Minnesota when I turned eighteen and left for college. As beautiful as my hometown of Duluth was, I just couldn't cope with the long freezing winters. California beckoned as a golden utopia.

But I fell in love with someone who loves the seasons, and eventually he convinced me to move to Pennsylvania.

"You should see the gorgeous campus," we told our friends, "and there's a farm stand right down the road where we can buy fresh peaches and tomatoes and eggs."

"Talk to me in February," said one good friend.

And she was right. For me, February is the toughest. I've been trying for a while to rewire myself to appreciate what is good about winter. When the frigid air hits my face and I want to hide in bed, I remind myself to say "what a beautiful crisp day," or "don't you love to see the snow sparkle in the sun?" When gray creeps in through the windows and cold breezes through the cracks in the doors, I remind myself that I love cozy blankets and warm apple cider. I'm trying to use the power of neuroplasticity (did you know you can actually reprogram your mind to respond to things differently by changing your patterns of thought and behavior?) to make myself appreciate winter.

It's kind of working. But this year, I'm rolling out my new plan to take it a step further. To make February a highlight of the year. And I want to take you with me.

I am SO EXCITED to introduce... The Phooey on February ELA Teachers' Club! If you decide to join me on the ride in this totally free club, here's what I'm planning.


Every few days in February, you'll get an e-mail from me with an idea for how you can improve your month. I'll be rolling out fun freebies week by week to help you on your way.

In the first club e-mail, I'll be explaining how to have a Phooey on February Party with your teacher friends, and linking to a free download of invitations, a hosting checklist, and some fun decorations. You can host a potluck in your teacher's lounge, a dessert and wine party at your house, or an appetizers extravaganza. There are invitation options for them all. Not only will you be brightening your own February, you'll be lifting the spirits of everyone you work with!

Soon after you'll be invited to try out classroom strategy challenges, launch a book drive at your school for the Prison Library Project (again, you'll be able to download everything you need for free), and try out my ideas for FUN workouts instead of the old elliptical grind.

You'll be invited to participate in The Chocolate Cake Challenge as well, trying out my favorite recipe for chocolate cake and posting a picture of your creation for a chance to win one of our many club giveaways. I can't wait to see how you decorate yours!

You'll get e-mails with podcast playlists to brighten your commute and book recommendations to liven up your night time reading.

You'll find out what teachers are loving on Netflix right now.

My goal, if you hadn't noticed, is to make FEBRUARY FABULOUS this year!

When you participate in the various activities and challenges, you'll be invited to post a photo or tell the story in the challenge thread in my Facebook group, Creative High School English. Then I will draw prize winners for each. At the end, any one who participates in any challenge will be eligible for the final giveaway.

Ready to dive in? Join the club right here.  Can't wait to see you in there! I haven't been so excited about February since, well... EVER!

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