The end of the school year is drawing near. It is state testing time in Indiana with another round coming in April/May. The students are ready for a break, and the staff is even more ready. The long stretch to the end of the year is very difficult. I have been compiling my own list of how I will survive the last few weeks, so I wanted to share some ideas with you. I received some of these great ideas from other Indiana teaching bloggers also! (Thank you Jenny Garwood, Stephany Dillon, and Stacey Hemphill.)
I thought about ranking my list, but I believe the ranking could be different for each person, so in no particular order:
1. Keep a routine with consistency and structure – It is so easy to ease up a little bit closer to the end of the year, but the kids will know and could take advantage of it. Stay as consistent as possible and hold high expectations.
2. Incorporate hands-on activities – It is getting warmer outside and the students are ready to be out of school. Plan engaging activities that will get the students involved completely in a project or a unit. My students last year focused on a big American Heroes unit with a culminating Wax Museum. They were so busy and engaged with the unit that the behavior incidents were decreased.
3. Reteach procedures and expectations – Returning from Spring Break is a wonderful time to reteach these procedures and expectations. It may seem like a waste of time and something that kids should just know at this point in the year, but reteaching can make a big difference in a room.
4. Don’t tear down your room until late – Believe me, I know the want to clean and tear things down when you have students to help, but tearing down signals the end of school. Many students will struggle to focus and some may even show behaviors due to the tearing down. Don’t risk it — just wait!
5. Set goals – Work with your students to set goals to work toward. Students can become responsible for their own goals and the motivation to meet these can help get through the end of the year. Then, count down to those goals and to the end of the year.
6. Kids come first at school – With state testing at the end of the year, data seems to be the main focus of many schools around here, but I encourage you to remember that the students are the main focus. Cramming for an exam is not what will make them a better person. Do what is best for the students all the way through their final day in your classroom.
7. Focus on a hobby – Find something that you enjoy doing and make time for it. It is so easy to drown in school work toward the end of the school year, but you need to make sure to step away at times and focus on things that you enjoy. I am loving my Thirty-One business and my horse farm. Those are my escapes when I need it.
8. Support System– Build a support system around you. Find people that you can vent to that will not get your worked up even more. Get things off your chest and move on from them so you can go into each day refreshed and focused on the children.
9. Focus on a healthy lifestyle – I don’t know about you, but the food that goes into my body when I am stressed out is not always the healthiest options. Make sure to take care of your bodies during the last part of the school year. Eat well, exercise and become a healthier you. This will help you through your day to day functions.
10. Take time for yourself – As teachers and other staff personnel, we are use to helping others and making sure everything else is taken care of. The thing I struggle with the most is actually taking time for myself. I am working a ton, and I sometimes need to just step away and take my own break.
These are just some of the ideas that I have came up with or received from friends. I would love to hear your ideas. How do you get through the end of the school year?
Heather Salsman is a Special Education Inclusion Teacher from Indiana. She blogs at Teaching Through Turbulence about behavior management and differentiation.