The end of a nine month school year can be very hectic for teachers and students alike. Student have group and individual projects to complete, practices and games to finish for their respective spring sports, exams (if applicable) to study for all while trying to contain their excitement about summer vacation. Teacher are trying to keep students focused as best they can, attending staff meetings, organizing student portfolios for conferences, grading papers and writing progress reports...to name a few. Students (perhaps parents as well) may not realize that teachers also look forward to a well deserved summer break. The multitude of responsibilities teachers have can easily lead to “burnout” if one doesn’t manage them well. It was roughly after my fourth year or so of teaching that I had enough experience “under my belt” to devise a plan in order to stave off “burnout” at the end of each school year. during my eighteen years as a teacher, these are five things that helped me deal with those very stressful weeks leading to the end of the school year.
1. Be realistic about your goals. Every year, teachers have goals they would like to achieve, but the reality is that sometimes all of those goals cannot be accomplished. There simply aren’t enough hours in each day in addition to having to be flexible due to special circumstances that occur every school year. As the end of the school year approaches, take a look at your plans to see what concepts are most important in helping your students transition into the next grade. Focus on them, and find ways to incorporate other concepts into those remaining days by way of unique lesson plan to keep your students interested.
2. Take a full lunch break (off campus if possible). Regardless of the duration of your lunch break, use that break in it entirety. Most likely you have been working through or taking an abbreviated lunch break for most of the year. This is the time of year when teachers need a surplus of energy to endure. Taking advantage of that entire lunch break will enable you to become re-energized for the afternoon.
3. Use a personal (Mental Health) day. I know some people frown upon taking a sick/personal day unless it is for a medical appointment, but I think it is important to have a day away from the classroom to decompress and reduce your stress level. Try to do something relaxing during your day off, and avoid thinking about work. You can think about work when you return.
4. Take care of yourself. Ideally this is something that everyone should do, but the reality is most people don’t. Getting a neck/back massage, going for a run, working out at the gym, playing tennis, meditating...all of these things will help you stay mentally and physically fresh. It may be a good idea to implement these activities throughout the school year.
5. Make the school days fun. At the end of each school year, students ability to focus in class quickly starts to wane. You can either fight it by not being flexible with respect to daily routines or you can make some changes and spice things up. Students will be completely engaged if they are doing something they think is fun. I created a Jeopardy game by using a pocket chart and flash cards. It was a great opportunity to review all of the concepts we covered during the year. I also created a Mixed Bag category that included information about pop culture and our school/classroom. You can also buy a classroom Jeopardy game from here. Another option is to create a Jeopardy game via the Jeopardy Labs website.
If you have weekly scheduled computer lab time, you can have your students visit www.smart-kit.com. This website has a lot of quick thinking, logic, math, Physics, hidden objects, brain teasers, memory games and much more. Creating a brain teaser packet that your students can work on individually or in pairs is another good idea to use.
Regardless of where you teach or how many students you have, there are many ways to keep yourself from burning out and waking up each morning refreshed and ready to make a positive impact on your students!
Teachers please share what you do to stay refreshed and energized during and at the end of the school year.