It’s the end of the school year! The problem with the end of the year is that it’s the end of the year! Teaching is unique in that way. It has a definite beginning and a definite end. For most teachers, this is all the time you will have with this particular group of students… So whatever doesn’t get done before that final bell, doesn’t get done. That can feel like a great deal of pressure when you are staring at your scope and sequence chart and realizing there are not enough hours left to possibly get through it all. To top it off, the end of the year is also fraught with field trips, assemblies, performances and any other number of things that disrupt your usual routine. Some of these things you will know about well in advance, some you might not. It’s amazing what can pop up. So what is a teacher to do?
Plan ahead, organize as you go and leave lots of wiggle room.
Many of you probably already do this because you are either organized by nature (I find many teachers are) or because you have been teaching long enough that you have developed coping skills that work for you and you now have it down to a science. If you do not, however, read on!
Get out that planner and make sure you write in (or type if you use an electronic planner) every event that you know you will need to attend. As things come up be sure you keep adding them in so you are not dealing with surprises! If you do use an online planner, set up alerts for yourself to keep anomalies in your schedule in mind. Keep all of this information in one place. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I have seen it happen time and again with teachers canceling or needing to reschedule my time with them at the last minute because they forgot about something their class needs to attend or complete.
Organize as you go
The longer I teach, the better I get at this. Have a plan for organizing and storing materials and have the students help you. Schedule that in. It is important for the students to take ownership of the care of materials and if you can get them to help you in the clean-up and storage, you will have more time and psychic space to organize your own materials so you can start ready in the fall. Best to make notes and personal reflections now so that the lessons you learned this year don’t fade over the break.
Leave lots of wiggle room
This is counterintuitive. You have so much to cover and so little time. Your natural tendency might be to plan every minute with no room for error but you are working with human beings within a dynamic organization called a school. If you want to end the year with less stress and more meaningful learning, better to end the year with something memorable like an integrated project where the students get to deep dive than to push students through curriculum. You may get to check curriculum off the to-do list but your students will likely not learn much. You are a teacher – creative by nature. How could you wrap some of those skills and concepts up into an integrated project? Cover what you can leaving lots of room for interruptions, curiosity, and reflections on learning.
Enjoy the end of your year!
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.