Hold on tight ! The end of the year is in sight, and that leaves many a teacher bracing themselves for the crazies to reach their peak. Report cards, testing, behaviors issues galore!
Yup. The end of the year can give you the same exhaustion you would get if you went on five field trips back-to-back. Get ready for three simple tips to make it to the end of the year with your sanity intact.
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The end of the school year is near - but that doesn’t mean calm waters and smooth sailing by any means. In a year where the stress has been on an entirely different level since day one, can it really get any worse? All joking aside, the end of the year is a time to celebrate - but it’s also sometimes the hardest on your health - especially if you are simultaneously making plans and decisions for next school year. For the rest of the season, we’re going to focus on how to get through the last weeks of school - and how to go about preparing for the year ahead. It’s also going to be the focus of the Monday Message, weekly strategies and encouragement I send out to my subscribers - you can find the link below.
Before you start thinking about next year or even this summer, you’ve got to think about how to get through the next few weeks with your kids - while they are being encouraged to do their best on the test and also gearing up for the summer. Everything feels like it’s being tested at the end of the year, whether it’s skills, stamina, or patience.
Regardless, you deserve to not have everything disintegrate into chaos at the last minute. That’s not how any of us want to go into our well deserved summer break. You and your students need to have some joy here at the end to finish on a positive note. So here are three tips to follow at the end of the year - or, before any major break or time off from school, to maintain order and harmony in your classroom until the final bell rings.
Keep your lessons and activities for the end of the year simple.
Social media is amuck with gorgeous pics of fun looking, themed activities to usher in the spring season. If you have some of these lessons planned in the next few days, good for you! If you are running on empty and don’t think you can crank out anything out-of-the-box over the next few days, that’s okay, too.
This year has done a number on our executive function - for both teachers and students. Sometimes, adding more bells and whistles when things have been blowing nonstop creates too much noise. Sticking to the basics this last few weeks (and in any other) won’t make you less of a teacher and won’t make your kids have any less of a memorable year. Trust me, they won’t forget 2020-21. Everyone’s goal is to get to the finish line. You can get there with glitter and scavenger hunts, or by taking a reliable stroll. If social media is wearing you down with your own battle of expectation versus reality, you’ve got to go back and listen to episode three or read this post on how to tell if your social media feed is making you sick.
At the end of the year, keep your routines and daily schedule structured.
Chances are, you have some things scheduled for this week - either school wide (hello, virtual talent show) or with your class (The 5th grade “Growing Up” talk. That’s all I have to say about that). It’s easy when there are already interruptions galore to throw up your hands and just let things dissolve into extra long recesses and pick-your-own-partner, even if you have a plan and procedure for everything in your room down to how you stick pencils in the sharpener.
Keep that structure, sis (or bro). Whether you realize it or not, your students thrive on it, even in a year where routines have been difficult to establish. The week will run a lot smoother and your kids are more likely to stay focused and out of trouble if you stick to your regularly scheduled times and activities as much as possible.
And third, continue to keep your students safe at the end of the year.
Spring time in the fifth grade can only mean two things are guaranteed. One, my darling children, even the ones wise beyond their years, will take more risks at recess than a contestant on that crazy TV show Wipeout. Two, with hormones and tempers blazing, I will start to feel like my classroom is morphing into an 80s after school special on mean girls/guys.
We all, teachers and students alike, need to be physically and emotionally safe. Put your focus and the energy you have reserved for school into ensuring your students make the best choices possible this week - so nobody goes into summer with a broken bone or a broken heart. We always remember how people make us feel. Your class may not remember that tech-laden lesson you slaved over to review fractions, but they’ll never forget the time they got hurt - or were kept safe.
See that flicker of light at the end of the tunnel??? In the next few weeks, it’s going to turn into a blazing flame of “I made it to Summer Break!” Keep things simple, structured, and safe, and you won’t lose your grip.
Would you like a dose of encouragement and strategies before you step into your classroom each week? Sign up for the Monday Message here.
Want more help with teaching in this topsy-turvy world right now? Download my free ebook, The Thrive Guide, below!