I think everyone I know hits a teaching wall in January. It's just a rough month in which to teach-- second quarter isn't over yet, so you're trying to pick up the pieces left behind before vacation and holiday insanity took over the classroom. Kids are flipping out about grades and missing work; snow days creep in (or don't) upsetting the balance; and it's just so darned cold!
I find it ironic that the first month of the calendar year-- filled with resolutions and goals and beginnings-- is the antithesis of that in the classroom. It's just such a static month for me: not starting anything new but finishing up the last weeks of the semester; treading water until the days start to feel longer and it's not so cold and everyone has the energy to come out of hibernation. For all the talk of resolutions around me, I just can't get into it really. My new year is in late August, the week before Labor Day; this is just something to get through.
This is something I think public schools can take from the college model: set up the schedule so that when you leave for the holidays in late December, the quarter (and semester) is over. Be truly on vacation, able to relax and enjoy time with family. Get refreshed and ready to return to classes. I guess that means we'd have to start in early August, which would probably start a riot in my own household, but I think I'd make that trade for a January break. Something's gotta give, because this month is just a killer.