I cannot tell you how many times I have said this phrase over the last month! I tell my new teachers! I tell my veteran teachers! I tell my daughter! I tell myself! Because, yes, it is THAT time of year! Everyone has lost their minds…and I am sorry to say…they are not going to find them until August!
One thing I have learned in my 22 years of doing this, school calendars are designed as they are for a reason. 22-24 people can only be expected to be confined to one (or a couple of) room for only so long during the year. This is why every district schedules breaks throughout the year! People get too comfortable with each other and, unfortunately, find out how to push each others buttons. Then you add how much students grow over the year…and we have not even begun to discuss SPRING/SUMMER FEVER! Ugh!
Yes, the end of the school year is a challenge! It always has been, and it always will be! However, as a teacher, there are many things that you can do to ensure you finish the year on a positive note!
- Be sure to take care of yourself. Your patience is running thin and you are tired, but you must remember, that if you are not on your game, the students won’t be either. Get extra rest! Find your outlet to relieve stress! Take time to reflect! And…most importantly…breathe before responding to student misbehavior!
- Continue to keep the same structure in your class during the last week of school as you did the first week! Students need structure! They are growing, they are maturing, and they are ready for summer break! If you don’t keep the classroom controlled and structured, while still enforcing the rules and expectations, students will take over! And, you will get frustrated, adding to your exhaustion….you get the idea!
- Continue to communicate with parents and students in a positive manner. Students begin to get anxious about leaving school for an extended break, as some don’t know what their days will look like when at home every day for three months. Parents get anxious as they worry about who will take care of their child(ren) during three months of time, especially if they are working hard during the school year just to make ends meet. How you communicate with families will determine how conversations go…they can come in upset, but you have the power to de-escalate the situation just by using professional, calm communication! I promise, I deal with more parent complaints during the final month of school than I do all year! PLEASE…do yourself and your principal a favor and remember this tip!
- The busier and more productive students are in class, the less they want to misbehave and be sent out to the office (remember our article about student compliance vs student engagement?). Continue to teach! Continue to provide students with purposeful and engaging activities that will hold their attention. This will save you a ton of headache in the long run! Remember, school is winding down but it is not over until it is over! They will keep coming up until that last day, expecting to do something! Why don’t we make that “something” meaningful and fun!
These are just a few tips for you as you wind down the year! If you have had a year like us…a DEVASTING hurricane and an ICE storm (yes, ice in Houston!)…then I am sure you are ready for it to be done and to start fresh…just remember, your students need you to provide them a place each day until it is over that will keep them safe and productive. I truly believe that YOU, the teacher, have the power to make the year end on a positive or negative note…how do you want it to end is a question you must ask yourself and then do the work! I am sure you have worked too hard this year to want it to fizzle out in the end! I am sure you just want to SPARKLE in that classroom until your last day!
Sparkle on, my friends!