It’s that time of year again: The weather is warmer, the days are longer, and your students’ attention spans are shorter. As the school year draws to a close, how do you beat the burnout and finish strong? We turned to Twitter for answers, and found three key tips for ending the year on a good note.
— EdWeek Teacher (@EdWeekTeacher) June 5, 2017
1. Stay Positive
Surviving the last few weeks of teaching, testing, and to-do lists can be overwhelming—but you don’t have to let the end-of-year burnout get you down. Revitalize the classroom spirit by focusing on the positive and staying motivated.
Ele Hanhe, an elementary special education teacher, noted that it’s important to "[k]eep the strong classroom relationships alive. Continue to be all in even when the last week comes around.” Dual-immersion kindergarten teacher Wendy Z. Guerra shared similar advice:
Have fun w/my kids every day. Fun that makes them eager to learn more & makes me enjoy it so much to do it again & again #HowIFinishStrong
— Wendy Z. Guerra (@wzguerra) May 30, 2017
Teachers highlighted self-care as an important way to de-stress and stay energized. High school visual arts teacher Jeanne Bjork tweeted, “I finish strong by exercising, riding my bike to work so I start the day with focus on wellness and energy.” For high school German teacher Petra Marx-Abend, swimming is her rescue from the end-of-year lull. “My best lesson plan ideas are created in the pool,” she tweeted.
2. Keep Learning
While the year—and your students’ interest—might be winding down, there’s no reason to coast through your final classes. Resist the temptation to show movies and zone out during the last few days of school—instead, motivate your students to keep learning by trying out innovative lesson plans and hands-on projects. From project-based learning to portfolio presentations, there are countless ways to make your last classes more meaningful.
Steve Large, a middle school teacher in Pennsylvania, encourages teachers to “keep it engaging with STEM,” and noted that the end of the year is a “great time to experiment with learning alternatives.” According to high school English teacher Nancy Shay, student performances of scenes from “Romeo and Juliet” keep her students “active and engaged physically and intellectually.”
“I spend the last week continuing to build science lab skills [students] will need in the next grade level,” tweeted Lauren Haynie, a 6th grade science teacher. “Students deserve it.”
Switching up roles in the classroom works for high school English teacher Candice Ledman: “My students plan the last week and tie everything to standards. They gain appreciation for what we do and high engagement!”
— Teresa Barriente (@mrsbarriente) June 5, 2017
3. Have Fun
After countless homework assignments, reports, essays, and tests, both you and your students deserve to have some fun. Inspire your students’ creativity by planning activities, games, and competitions to finish off the year.
Jacque Fitzgerald tweeted that her high school seniors perform “spoken word poetry to raise [their] voices with freshmen,” while Beth Donofrio provides her 9th and 10th grade students with great summer reads:
During last week bring in a favorite used book, give us a 30 sec. commercial, earn a book buck, host a book swap, and snack on last day.
— Beth Donofrio (@donofrio4) May 31, 2017
Other educators plan inventive activities that involve both students and their families. Third grade teacher Crystal Patterson tweeted, “We do a Mini Society where my students create their own businesses and sell their products to other students and parents.” Sherie Ryan-Bailey, a 5th grade teacher in North Carolina, celebrates literary works with her students: “My class chooses our favorite poetry from the year and creates a poets’ cafe for the parents on the last day of school.”
Teachers, what are your favorite ways to wrap up the school year? Share your tips with #HowIFinishStrong.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.