We’re quickly approaching the finish line of the school-year marathon. Like runners reaching the end of a race, there are a few helpful mental strategies teachers can utilize to finish strong!
10 Ways to Finish the School Year Strong
1. Recognize and accept that the end of the year is difficult.
Sometimes just mentally recognizing this is the case and not bemoaning the fact or denying it, helps immensely. Know you will put in some extra time planning, grading and going to end-of-year activities. Let friends and family know you won’t be available.
2. Know your triggers and plan for them.
What do you dread most about the end of the year? Spend a few minutes reflecting on what is the most difficult part for you and come up with a plan to make it easier. If your school doesn’t have AC and you know the rise in temperature affects your mood, buy extra fans and spray bottles. If your final exams take forever to grade, explore how you can make all or parts of the test graded automatically with GradeCam!
3. Brain dump your To-Dos.
Whenever you feel you have the weight of hundreds of tasks on your mind. Sit down and write them all out. Just getting them all out of your head will relieve stress. And, oftentimes, there will be fewer things than you expected. When deciding what to do first, try this Intentional Procrastination System.
4. Make sure you have the important stuff covered and ditch the rest.
When we get overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget that not all tasks carry the same level of importance. There are a few things essential to closing out a school year. Usually, these include giving final assessments, grade reporting, and other end-of-year paperwork. There are many other things that feel like they should be done but just aren’t necessary.
As we discuss in this article, 20% of what teachers do in the classroom accounts for 80% of student performance. Keep a laser focus on that 20% at the end of the year and ditch the rest.
5. Celebrate the successes of individual students.
If you’ve been keeping SLO data throughout the year, you have evidence of how much your students have accomplished over the year. Celebrate them individually or as a group. You could write notes to the students who have made exceptional strides, print out their individual reports and ask them to reflect on the year and what their achievements mean to them, or hand out gold star badges to the entire class and throw a party to celebrate them crushing their goals!
6. Celebrate YOUR successes.
What the students achieved this year is all due to your hard work and dedication. Celebrate that! Also, pat yourself on the back for going above and beyond. What new technology or organization system did you implement this year that made it so much easier? Take some time to congratulate yourself for all those #nailedit moments throughout the year.
7. Don’t over complicate things!
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. There is no sense in trying to push through all the material that’s left to teach when you can only realistically get to half of it. Our favorite way to simplify what’s left of your grading is to make everything scannable!
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
8. Have students help out.
Why should you shoulder all the burden for checking off the end-of-year to-do list? Beyond clearing out their own personal items, students can take inventory of classroom items, sharpen pencils, organize cabinets, or file away papers. If you use GradeCam scan sheets, they can even help scan piles of papers for you!
9. Amp up the fun.
A little joy and whimsy can go a long way in keeping morale high. Take the lesson outside for a change of scenery. Buy some fun stickers or stamps to use on assignments. Plug in a bubble-making machine. You could even vote on silly superlatives with a GradeCam form. Especially in higher grades, anything outside of the normal routine can have a big impact.
10. Choose joy.
This may sound cheesy, but simply choosing your mindset before you start the day has a profound impact on your experiences. Choose to enjoy your last few days with these kids. You’ll never be with this same group of students again. Maybe you had a trying year with them or possibly it was your best year of teaching yet. Either way, you’ve been on a journey together and that’s worth honoring.
Best wishes for during these last few weeks of school teachers. We hope you feel us supporting and rooting you on with every scan!