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Are you counting days, hours, and minutes until summer vacation? Do you give your school papers a ride home each night and find that it was merely a field trip? Those ungraded papers remain just that…. ungraded. Have your students forgotten all the classroom rules and procedures? Are you pushing your snooze button “just one more time” each morning?
Yep. You’re suffering from end of year teacher burnout. For most teachers, it’s inevitable, and sometimes results in stronger coffee, more chocolate, an extra glass or wine, or earlier bedtimes.
End of Year Burnout:
So, now that you’ve been diagnosed, let’s chat about ways that you can push through. Better yet, how do you push through WHILE continuing to nurture your students intellectually, socially, and emotionally? Though you are beyond exhausted and your body is just going through the motions, there are a few things you can do that will make your life more bearable. You might even find yourself feeling excited about the prospect of next year! GASP! Yes, that little flame of anticipation might start to show signs of life.
Structure each day as if it were the first day of school.
Pack every single minute with student engagement. This is the worst time of year to be unprepared, even for a few moments. Your students are just as anxious for summer as you are and their bodies will utilize every single unstructured moment to move and groove. No joke. On that note, part of your plan should include physical movement. No matter the age, we all need to get up and move around at this time of year. Can you do your lesson outside? Do you have yoga cards or other structured movement exercises you can utilize more frequently during this time? Productive and structured wiggle time is crucial during this time.
Try some new end-of-year reflections and activities.
Ask your teammates if they have any end-of-year traditions that their students love. Check out end of year activities on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you want to have a plethora of meaningful activities at your disposal, consider using a Last Week of School Activity Pack designed for your grade level that includes class activities, reflections, and no prep printables (click the picture below and choose your own grade level in the product description of this product). When your students remain engaged in meaningful activities like these, you will see a huge decrease in disruptive behaviors and time will FLY! As an aside, it is really important for you to provide opportunities for your class to reflect on their learning and overall experience during the year. It allows them to feel a sense of closure and peace as the year comes to an end. It is SO completely normal for everyone to feel mixed emotions… including you!
Recruit your students to help you organize and clean up.
Did I say clean up? I meant SCRUB! Your students spent a whole year creating the mess, they can help you get things back in order. Does your classroom library need organizing? Better yet, do you want to reorganize your entire classroom library by genre, author, series, or something different? Snatch up some new baskets and classroom library labels and put them to work! It will save you hours and hours of work during the summer. Done with the classroom library? Ask them to wipe down windowsills and bookshelves. Check for cluttered cabinets that can be organized. Bottom line… enlist your little cherubs to help you with your end of year close out and clean up!
Plan something fun for yourself outside of school each week.
The mere act of planning something fun will make you feel better. No, seriously. Looking forward to fun activities that have nothing to do with school allows you to feel like a human being again. Can you schedule a barbecue with a friend? A massage? A manicure or pedicure? Happy hour at your favorite restaurant? Go ahead and put them on your calendar. Thinking about doing them isn’t enough. Write them down and make a commitment to reward yourself each week.
Do ONE thing to get yourself excited about teaching next year.
Switch up the configuration of your classroom, choose a color scheme or decor theme that you love. Start by searching classroom decor on Pinterest and choose a couple of pins that you want to model your classroom after. Though it may sound ridiculous, all of these activities will lift weight off your overburdened shoulders and give you a fresh perspective. If nothing else, it will begin to light the flame of anticipation for next year’s class. You can also check out this blog post, Attack Teacher Burnout Before it Swallows You Up, that provides even more suggestions to keep your “teacher fire” lit when burnout is looming.
Remember the love you have for each and every student.
Before the last day of school, make a point to look at every single student and take note of three things you love (in your mind or on paper). Yes, you CAN find three things to love about EVERY SINGLE student in your classroom. On an energetic level, this shifts your mind from “get me outta here, I need summer” to “holy buckets, I love this group of kids” and that might be all you need to make it through the rest of the year with a smile.
Even if your eyes are half-closed and you’re ready for bed, peruse this list one more time and make a commitment to follow through on one suggestion. When you notice that it’s working, come back and choose one more. Before you know it, you’ll be turning your alarm clock off and enjoying the freedom that summer brings!
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