George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Blur of kids running fast outside

Well, you've made it this far, and we only have a few weeks left. These final weeks can be the hardest days of the school year. Spring is in the air, and the students are restless. All of those end-of-year duties can start to pile up, and the stress levels are at an all-time high. But while this time of year can be tough and exhausting, it doesn't have to feel that way. Here are a few things that you can do to help yourself and your students make it through the homestretch in one piece.

1. Get Outside

One of the best things that you can do is take your class outside whenever possible. There are sure to be days of beautiful weather ahead, and you know that students will be thinking about being outside anyway. Take a class period to seat your students under a tree and read a book or have a discussion. Write poetry or observe nature. There are so many different things that any class in any subject can do outside, and as summer approaches (or at any time of year, really), it's always good to get some fresh air.

2. "Treat Yo Self!"

I had to take this quote from the TV show Parks and Rec, because the end of the year can be a time when teachers forget to take care of themselves. We tend to be worried about everyone else, which means that we forget to do the little things that make us happy. It's OK to be a bit selfish once in a while. Take in a spa day, or go fishing on the weekend. Take some time to do something nice for yourself, and the rest of the school year will be a much smoother ride. Being in the right state of mind is good for you and for your students.

3. Reflect

The end of the year is a great time to start thinking about the year overall. Take some time to reflect on what has worked well and what could use a tweak over the summer if it's something you plan to do again next year. The homestretch is about more than just getting to the end of the year -- it's about ending on a positive note. Reflection will help you focus the rest of this school year on improving instead of just finishing.

4. Project Time

For me, the end of the year has always been a great time for projects. Kids are itching to get out of their seats and move around. Instead of trying to stifle those feelings, redirect them into fun projects. There are so many different types of projects that students can do, and yours will be excited to do them because, in their minds, the end of the year equals freedom, and projects are almost the same thing. Give these kids a chance to show what they know, and you will have a very different classroom atmosphere as the year ends.

5. Connect

The end of the year can be stressful. Grades are due, parents need feedback, evaluations are being completed, and with all of these and so many other things going on, it's important to not face this time alone. Connect with other teachers in your building or from your PLN. Like you, they want to share these issues and get feedback. Sometimes, you're ready to just vent to a few sympathetic listeners. Other times, it's good to run ideas by peers. Connecting can make an otherwise stressful time of year a breeze for everyone.

Every teacher has different ways to cope with the end of the year. The homestretch can be tough, or it can be fun. It's really up to the teacher to decide how it will be this year. Do you have some tips for teachers out there in the midst of the homestretch? Leave them in the comments section below so that we can all learn from each other.

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Jacqueline Durrett's picture
Jacqueline Durrett
Director of Ed Tech / Diocese of Charlotte Catholic Schools

Great reminders as the end of the school year approaches. Best advice I was given regarding the end of the year "Don't stop teaching. Keep planning, keep kids engaged, learn new things together, definitely have fun, but just don't stop teaching."

ExpectMore24's picture is an engaging and relevant free resource for the home-stretch. Like more teachers, I was being super standards-aligned leading up to our state test. However, this is my favorite time of the year since I can teach and expose my students critical content that isn't necessarily covered on a test.

John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct Faculty Antioch University New England, former Elementary Principal

Nicholas, Great suggestions! I too keep my best projects and hands on lessons for the more difficult times of the year. One thing many teachers do all too often is start shutting down too early. Taking down posters, showing videos, and giving free choice time all send messages to students the year is over. I am very up front with my students: I tell them we still have work to do. We can have fun, enjoy it, but we have work to do and need to give it our very best attention. The students typically respond to my directness and give me the best days of the year in the last few weeks.

Melanie Link Taylor's picture
Melanie Link Taylor
Educator, Blogger, Southern California

Thanks for the encouragement! Save the most fun, best activities for last--use all the input from the schoolyear to identify what this unique group of kids really enjoy and will keep them productively occupied, of course. This is also a great time for art and music.

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