Picture it: a school in 2021. Welcome signs and student artwork are replaced by Covid-19 warning posters. Full faces are replaced by masks revealing only the eyeballs and up. Physical bodies are replaced by foreheads or ceiling fans on a screen. Class sets of copies are replaced by scanning > saving as a pdf > downloading to your computer > then adding it to Google Classroom. All the while, we teachers are getting our in-person students started on their bell-ringer and signing onto the Google Meet with virtual students.
We do all this with the same smile we started the year with, although now it’s a little forced. We click, talk, answer questions, pass out papers, and write on the board simultaneously!
The School Year Is Ending…Now What?
Whatever way you taught this year, this profession is not for the faint of heart. Since March 2020, teachers’ patience, creativity, flexibility, and juggling skills have been tested like never before. We usually end a school year filled with excitement, fun memories, smiles and gifts, and this year should be no different. But for many of us, we are just plain exhausted and a little surprised that we actually made it through the year without quitting our jobs.
Fear not. We have almost made it! Give yourself a pat on the back and a venti-sized Starbucks coffee. We survived despite double the workload, internet crashes, and having to be in two or sometimes three places at the same time. We survived the immense stack of never-ending grading. We survived teaching a whole lesson to virtual students with our mics muted and not getting the message in the “chat” section because we were instructing the whole time and had all of our tabs casted, shared, smothered, and covered.
So, what now? We are in the final countdown to the days we’ve been grinding towards since Christmas break. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the days of the summer where my biggest decision will be what bathing suit I will wear or if I should take a nap before or after lunch.
This Is How Teachers Can Finish the School Year Strong
How can we finish stronger than we started and leave this school year behind? How can we get refreshed enough to do it all again in two months?
Laugh! Find something to laugh about all the way to the end. This year has provided plenty of humor! Start a group text where you send memes throughout the week. It will be good for your soul!
Exercise. This is a great stress reliever for obvious reasons, but crucial for your mental and physical health. It forces you to spend an allotted amount of time on you!
Love on your students. As we finish the year, love on them. Remember the good times. Sign their yearbooks and reminisce about all the inside jokes or crazy things that happened—things you survived together as a class!
Build in time for you. Starbucks, TJMaxx, Hobby Lobby, Dunkin’ … Those need no explanation!
Self-assess. This might be the most important and also the hardest to do. Assess what worked well and what didn’t for this last school year, both in the classroom and personally.
We usually end a school year filled with excitement, fun memories, smiles and gifts, and this year should be no different.
This Is How Teachers Can Find Refreshment This Summer
Turn off the email. You owe it to yourself to disconnect. Over the summer break, stay off of your email! If you just have to check it, set some boundaries and only check once a day at the same time.
Build in time for you. Again, Starbucks, TJMaxx, Hobby Lobby, Dunkin’ Donuts, or whatever it is that you enjoy! (You better believe this tip is on the last list as well as this one!)
Stay out of the school building. Get away and think about all the other things you wanted to spend time on while you were in the building from August to now.
Dial down all the extra-curriculars. Not forever … or maybe forever. Just give yourself some time to breathe and rest. Say yes to only the absolutely necessary activities.
Get out those cookbooks or make a new Pinterest board. Cook all the dinners you wish you could have made during the school year, and actually do it! (Or order takeout.)
Go on a vacation or stay-cation. Take at least one week where you don’t do or even talk about anything school-related. Read a good book or watch that Netflix series you wanted to watch all year but were too tired for.
Remember and regroup. Remember why you teach. This gives you hope and defines the reasons why you keep showing up every day. Figure out what worked well in your personal and teaching life, what didn’t work, and devise a plan to help next school year run a little smoother.
Finish Strong, My Fellow Teachers!
At the end of any and all days, simply count your blessings. The trials and challenges scream at us all day long and seep insecurities into our every fiber. We really do have so much to be thankful for … starting with the job that is driving us crazy.
I have to check my heart sometimes because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Count these new innovative ways of teaching and accommodating our students as blessings. We all found out on day one of our very first teaching position that teaching is about being flexible and creative. Finish strong, and enjoy doing it.
It definitely takes a little something extra to finish strong after such a challenging school year. Watch this to learn how to activate your strength as a woman…