Summer is getting CLOSE, y’all. You’re in the midst of that unique tension between approaching elation and the added stress of end-of-year tasks. (Oh, and you’re still teaching, so there’s that.)
While the light is visible at the end of the tunnel, it’s easy to succumb to exhaustion just thinking about all the things you have to do. But here are some ideas that may help you end the year with a strong finish and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of energy as you head into the summer. So try on a few of these and see what works for you!
- Sneak in the end-of-year tasks when you can. You know it’s coming if you haven’t gotten it already: that long, stapled checklist from admin must be completed before you can happily jaunt out the door when school is out. So go ahead and get started on it early. Sneak in some tasks here and there, and your pile will be dwindled down when time is of the essence. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. (New teacher? Ask someone who’s been there a while to let you know what’s coming.)
- Snag some students to help. There’s always a handful of students who want (or need) something to do. They are full of energy and/or desire to be helpers. So let them help! Before school or between lessons, they can dust shelves, clean out desks, organize storage closets, count items for inventory, and even help you pack if you’re moving classrooms. Those little hands can do a lot!
- Ask your students what they want to learn. You have a curriculum to stick to. But throw the question out there for them: What would you like to learn that we haven’t learned yet? Or – Is there something we learned that you want to know more about? Tell them their ideas have to stay in the bounds of your requirements. You’ll likely get some silly requests (and if you’ve got the time, why not do a few of those?). But this is a great way to give the kids a sense of ownership in their learning, which will result in keeping them engaged. That alone is a huge W this time of year.
- Let your students teach. If they are at a certain age, students can research topics and present them to the class. You will have to facilitate this, but you may find your energy levels stay a little higher without being the one who’s “on” up in front of the classroom all day long. It will give your body and your voice a slight reprieve, allowing you to preserve some energy for all of the other things that you will have to tackle. And speaking of which…
- Accept the fact that you will be tired. Not first-week-of-school tired, mind you, but tired nonetheless. You’ll have all kinds of extras–Field Day, assemblies and concerts, end-of-year conferences, IEP meetings, class parties, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at school or at home to lighten the load. (“Honey, I’m gonna need you to handle dinner this week.”)
- Have some fun with your students. Throw in some surprise treats, like hosting class outside, having a free-write or free-reading day, an extra recess, a crazy sock day, or some other small thing here and there. Trust me; it doesn’t take a lot to get kids excited. I taught at a private school where the kids wore uniforms. We had Fun Shoe/Fun Sock Fridays, and the kids Ate. It. Up.
- Set a classroom goal. Work with your students to set a reasonable yet challenging goal. Promise something fun if they reach it, like coming to school with blue hair, singing karaoke for them, or allowing them to silly string you at the end of the day.
- Create a countdown. Ok, I know I’ve brought this up already this year, but I love a good countdown. And this is the biggest one of them all, leading up to summer. Check out these fun and creative ideas on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers already thought out for you.
Exhausting as it can be, this can be a really fun time of year to make some last-minute memories with your students. They may drive you batty, but you have grown to know them and love them through the ups and downs of this challenging year. So help them and yourself end the year positively and head off into the summer for a well-deserved break.
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