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Winters rolls, teaching takes its toll

Isaac Brenner ’26

Since the start of the approaching winter season, students’ energy has slowly decreased. As the weather becomes more bleak and depressing, teachers try their best to keep students’ hopes and attitudes up knowing winter break is almost here.

The period between Thanksgiving and winter break is referred to as the seasonal slump. Factors contributing to the dip in energy include lack of sunlight, building and piling of work, and stress surrounding upcoming midterms. With seasonal depression, mood changes, and burnout can result in this decline. With a lack of motivation, students’ grades slip, and the drive to complete work efficiently is virtually gone.

While students struggle to energize themselves to finish the semester strong, teachers take it upon themselves to help them find their focus. By looking to engage students, some teachers may try fun activities in class. Students feel as though school becomes far too repetitive, and their creativity is contained rather than encouraged. Once school becomes draining, it is difficult to break the slump.

After Thanksgiving, students feel the curriculum taking off as teachers work to meet deadlines for what they need to teach by Christmas break. This ramp-up, along with the changing weather adds a lot of tension on students. School Psychologist Lisa Khoury acknowledges this by explaining the process of everything done on time before break.

“I think that when we get closer to the holiday break or to the school breaks, sometimes there’s that fatigue factor that sets in where everybody’s a little bit,” Khoury said. “You know, one more day one more day, sort of waiting for it to happen with the break.”

Though tough to find at this part of the year, Khoury stresses how self-motivation is essential to fight through the downturn. She says this can be done by rewarding yourself with minor prizes when you complete your work, or even just by creating good habits. She stresses the importance of having a good sleep schedule so students can reach their fullest potential of effort.

“Sleep is very underrated. Sometimes students don’t feel like they need as much sleep as they actually do and stay up later than they would like,” Khoury said. “Which impacts their attention and their alertness during the school day. So staying to a pretty strict regimen if you can about getting at least eight hours if not a little more sleep every night would be what I would recommend.”

Although winter break is here, for students, the wait leading up to it can be unbearable at times with all of the note-taking, last-minute quizzes and all of the homework students receive.

To help get everyone engaged in class, teachers are recommended to change things up from time to time and maybe do an activity like a game that requires students to participate. English teacher Shannon Sugamele prepares energizing activities. Such as a game about revolutionary writers with her American Literature class.

“I think that it helps students kind of re-energize a little bit, it gives them that little break from reading and writing”, said Sugamele. “But they’re still engaging with content without realizing it. But it’s in a more fun interactive format.”

Boredom is a major cause of the slump according to Alex Henry ’25. The pattern of notes, homework and tests causes a dull school environment where he thinks the opportunity to show more creativity would keep him more focused and involved in his work. Henry says he learns more from interactive and collaborative assignments in comparison to being given guided notes.

“At the beginning of the year, I am more productive and motivated to turn in all of my assignments,” Henry said. “School just gets repetitive. It would help if we did more hands-on assignments like projects instead of the same thing every day.”

During this time of year, Evelyn Wodzisz ’26 struggles to find motivation to do assignments. She says the colder weather and higher homework loads make curling up in bed a tempting alternative. With homework piling up, she feels burnt out and is at a loss of drive to keep up with her studies.

“If I’m already in a slump, it is so much harder to do things I would be fine doing at the beginning of the year,” Wodzisz said. “Easy tasks become so much harder. It is grueling and work takes much more mental effort.”

With excitement surrounding the beginning of the school year, Wodzisz said she is more driven to stay organized and looks forward to reaching goals as the year progresses. However, once December rolls around,all of this is erased. She feels she develops bad habits that affect her performance in class as she struggles to escape the slump. To find that sense of excitement again, she suggests more variety in teachers’ lesson plans.

“I am in a cycle of sleep deprivation and always worrying about my homework,” Wodzisz said. “I wish we wouldn’t just take notes and do the same thing every day, it becomes boring. Interactive work, such as projects and experiments keep me engaged.”

While students deal with regular school work, teachers too can feel pressured with grading papers, giving assignments and preparing for the upcoming holidays. As lots of teachers are parents and need to get everything ready for their families, Math teacher Alexa McConaghy said she has a family of her own which adds extra work to her schedule.

“When you’re a parent then you know, it’s all about the baking and the shopping and the decorating and the cleaning and hosting and the cooking,” McConaghy said. “Yeah, so it’s a lot, It’s fun, but it’s a lot.”

A simple mindset change can make pushing through the slump much easier. Khoury added that thinking too far ahead in the future can make these periods and stretches of weeks feel long.

Rather, she suggests taking it day-by-day and focusing on what you need to get done in a short time. Encouraging yourself and pushing positivity can also ease the stress of the slump. Instead of worrying about everything you need to get done, she suggests reflecting and celebrating the success you may have had on one day, in terms of finishing all of your work on time.

“Sometimes it is easier to shorten your timeline,” Khoury said. “Shortening your horizon line or goal will make things less stressful. ‘Let me just get through today, that will be good enough’ and then tomorrow you will get through that day, and then the next. Making a checklist of what you need to get done will help you track how productive you have been. Seeing how much you have gotten done will show you that you can do it, spinning it positively. Having a positive internal dialogue in your head will help you avoid negative thoughts.”

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About the Contributors
Isaac Brenner ’26
Isaac Brenner ’26, Copy Editor
Issac Brenner ’26, first year copy editor, is a member of both the Junior Varsity football and baseball team.“I’m really excited to write actual news stories for a newspaper and things that are happening and really interested in learning more about Journalism as a whole,” Brenner said. Outside of journalism, Brenner likes to spend the majority of his time playing baseball. This year will be his second year on South’s baseball team as well as his eighth year participating in baseball. Outside of his high school season Brenner is on a travel time called the Grosse Pointe Redbirds.“I love the mental aspect of the game,” Brenner said. “Most sports are about physical dominance but baseball is about being mentally tougher. Every pitch is a constant competition with yourself and I love winning those battles,” Brenner said.Brenner describes himself as driven. Driven to succeed in tower, and driven to succeed in baseball. “ I describe myself as driven because I am ready to do whatever it takes for Tower”.
Ronin McCracken '26
Ronin McCracken '26, Staff Writer
Drawing. Painting. Printmaking. Photography. After a summer spent unleashing his creativity through every possible medium, Ronin McCracken ’26 is ready to take on a brand new one: journalism. As a first year staff writer for The Tower, McCracken isn’t sure what he wants to write just yet, but he’s looking forward to voicing his thoughts in opinion stories in the coming year. “If I see a story that I like, I’ll just try to do that the best I can,” McCracken said. When he isn’t making art or chasing down his next big story, McCracken can be found with a controller in hand, fighting his way out of yet another Mortal Kombat chapter beside his closest friends. An avid gamer for many years, McCracken said he can hardly remember a time without a console. “I remember having a Wii when I was really little,” McCracken said. “We still have it, but it’s not even usable anymore. That was probably the first time I ever played a video game--I don’t even know how young.”

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