Monday, May 26, 2014
How to survive (or even thrive in) the last days of the teaching year: a basic to-do list
Ideally, the end of year feels celebratory and reflective, but often it feels hectic: we facilitate and assess final projects/tests, complete report cards, clean our rooms, and organize end-of-year events such as portfolio roundtables or concerts. The students are antsy, our colleagues are tired, and the school may feel oppressive as the sunshine and spring air wafts through our windows.
So, in the name of getting things done in these final weeks, here's my basic to-do list for the end of the year. It omits the obvious things, like complete your grading and clear off your desk. . .
1. Make sure to reflect on your year: If you do nothing else, make three quick lists as you look honestly and critically at the past year:
what to keep
what to revise,
and what to ditch.
If you have more time, choose one problem to focus on--maybe a student who continues to struggle, or a project that needs tweaking. Give it a 20-minute written reflection or discussion with a colleague over lunch. Then let it go for now. You'll get a fresh look at it in July, as you sit in the backyard with that lemonade.
2. Write to some of your students' parents and thank them for their support. This simple email will fill you with gratitude and propel you to the next school event.
3. Ask your students about their thoughts about or plans for summer. You might learn something interesting, like one plans to travel to England, and another is dreading summer, as he often misses his friends and gets bored. At the very least, you can agree that sleeping in is something to look forward to.
4. Delegate! Ask for a student's (or parent's) help in collecting books and crossing them off your list, organizing your book shelves, or even sweeping under your desk.
5. At home, do one simple thing that will make you feel like things are under control. I clean my bathroom sink. The shiny fixtures and clean whiteness make me sigh with relief, even if my lawn looks like a jungle and there's a layer of cat hair on every floor and surface.
6. Buy a pair of sandals (on sale at Target)--or some object that screams summer. Even bug repellent. Or pick some flowers and bring them inside. The end is in sight!
Happy end of year! May your summer be rejuvenating, productive, and fun.