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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Exhaustion Gets You Nowhere: The End of the School Year

I often talk about the residual effect of a year of teaching. In many ways it's like dragging a blanket through puddles--the blanket gets heavier and heavier. This is how the school year feels because all year long you work to do your best with limitless potential and endless tasks and by year's end, let's face it, no matter how old you are or what your family life or lifestyle is, you're tired.

It's okay to be tired at year's end, particularly if you gave the year your best effort and service to children, but it's imperative that educators steer clear of exhaustion because exhaustion can take a great year and ruin it at the end.

How does an educator steer clear of exhaustion?

Pace Well
First, take a look at the pacing. Students, like you, have grown a bit tired by the end of the year. They don't have the same zest they had in September and are simply ready for a break. When you map out the year, it's good to save those final weeks for a mix of the classic reading and writing with some special events and investigations.

Share the Schedule and Rationale
Next, share the end-of-the-year map with students. Tell them what they'll be learning, how they'll learn it, and why. The more they understand the rationale for events and schedule the more invested, helpful, and successful they'll be.

Prioritize and Be Choosy
Late night ball games, concerts, and special events often leave young children and their teacher parents tired. Be aware of that and prioritize the end-of-the-year teaching focus well. Make sure every day has some quiet reading and study time as well as some invigorating teamwork.

Have a Sense of Humor
The end-of-the-year often brings some small errors, and it's best to meet those errors with a sense of humor. For example, as we attempted to make slime the other day, a child unknowingly dripped the colorful, messy solution all over the floor. I looked down and said, "Lift the bottle, look what's happening." She lifted the bottle and I said with a bit of laughter, "That's something I would have done at your age, let's clean it up." She and friends quickly cleaned it up and that was that--no problems, no tears, and a good laugh.

Play is invigorating and educational too. Use play as much as possible at the end of the year to foster team, happiness, and learning success.

Make time for you and your students to rest. Lessen any homework you might give, and stay ahead of the end-of-the-year paperwork and demands by making a good list and chopping away at it earlier than later.

The end-of-the-school year is a tiring time, and it's important to think a bit differently about this leg of the year so that you end with the same strength that you enjoyed the rest of the year. During the upcoming weeks of summer there will be time to catch up on research, reading, rest, relaxation, and fun so move through this time with care, kindness, a sense of humor and well-paced teaching and learning.