The end of the school year is full of emotions, stress and exhaustion. The to do lists are long. The student energy is high, while the teacher energy seems to be nonexistent. We want to end the year on a high note, but sometimes we are just causing ourselves undue stress.
There are several mistakes that a teacher can make at the end of the year even though they mean well. These mistakes will make the end of the year even more difficult.
1. Completely Changing the Routine
Try your best to keep the routine in tact, even at the end of the year. I know that some days this will be next to impossible. There are assemblies, field trips, open house and so many other school events that flip our daily routine upside down. You can't change those things, but every other day- keep the routine! If you have been doing reading groups all year, keep having reading groups. You don't have to do the exact same thing in those reading groups. Maybe you want to do a book club instead of reading the curriculum stories. That is great!
You can change small things while still keeping the routine. If you change the schedule too much or too often, it tends to lead to behavior challenges. Kids really like routine! Everyone likes to know what is expected.
2. Doing Too Much of the Work
When I first started teaching, I had a mentor that always said, "If you are going home tired, you are doing too much of the work." Although I often go home exhausted, I do see her point. We have a tendency to do too much of the talking, too much of the teaching and too much of the work. Make sure your students are doing their fair share to lead the classroom. They can do pair shares to teach and review topics. They can do team projects and work together to make a plan for the completion. They can help with grading by doing trade and grade with math facts and other simple assignments. Students can be cleaning and organizing the classroom. Are there tasks that can be done at home such pencil sharpening, lamination cutting, stapling, etc? Send an email to parents with your exact needs and see if they would be willing to volunteer. You are a classroom family and everyone has to do their share of the work!
3. Not Having Fun
I think that every day should include some fun. I am not a three-ring circus leader (even though it feels like it sometimes), but I still feel that simple activities can be lots of fun. The end of the year should be even more fun! You want to send your students home, on that last day, super excited to come back after break. You want to create long-lasting and positive memories. I know that you are tired and stressed, but do yourself a favor and a plan a few fun activities for the last weeks of school. Some ideas include:
- having classroom theme days
- do STEM projects
- have a book raffle
- do art projects
- play games
- have an end of year awards ceremony
- make end of year memory books
4. Not Prepping for Next Year
I know that you are really busy trying to survive the end of this year. You probably think that I am crazy to even mention next year. Here's the thing- if you don't start prepping for next year, you will end up thinking about it and working during your summer break. You need a break! Prep now so that your break can be more enjoyable.
In THIS post, I wrote about the things that you really should have prepped before you leave for summer break. It is doable!
5. Focusing on the HUGE To Do List
I know that you have a ton to do. Do you ever just stare at the list, get frustrated and then not even start on the tasks? I hope I am not the only one! When we have a lot to do, we tend to spend a lot of time thinking and stressing over all that we have to do. The reality is that if we just used that time to make a plan and get started, we would finish much faster!
So let's make a plan! Start by doing a brain dump. Take a few minutes to write down everything that you need to do.
Then try grouping items that are similar. By batching your tasks, you will save lots of time. For example, if you have to send a few emails- it makes more sense to sit down and write them all at once than it does to sit down multiple times to write the emails. After you have batched your tasks, look at your calendar. You can't do it all at one time, so schedule blocks of work time and write exactly what you want to accomplish during that time. Be reasonable and don't forget to block off time for family, sleep, exercise, etc.
Now you don't need to focus on the whole list. Just focus on what you have scheduled for today! You and your kids deserve this!
I hope that you really enjoy your class during those last few weeks! You know you will miss them!