Monday, April 20, 2009

Dealing with End-of-Year Stress

A new teacher recently told me that she had been hearing about how hard the end of the year is- "doom and gloom" I think she called it! She wondered if teachers who have been through it might give her some suggestions. Well here they are!

I know that this may be so logical that it does not warrant writing, but having a large paper calendar helps me stay organized. I also have a copy on my laptop on my desktop.

I would also recommend checking in with veteran teachers about the meaning of certain instructions. Ask tons of questions. Measure twice. Cut once!

Keep your kiddos busy with meaningful work right up until the last moments of school. Behavior issues will not escalate if kids are engaged. In 5th grade, behavior can become an issue quickly. Something about idle hands and minds.....
Thomas R. Ruark, 5th Grade Teacher

When you first receive your end of the year packet, your heart will race, and you will panic. This is normal. It happens to everyone. After a minute of panicking take a deep breath and take it day by day. As you complete a day or week mark it off. Write everything on your calendar so nothing is a surprise. If there is something there you don't know what it is, ask your mentor or office mate. Try to enjoy the end of your first year of teaching. Think back to the first day and remember how excited you were. Now think of everything you have learned this year. You should think about all the lessons you learned the hard way, the parents you pissed off, now think of the children you have touched. You made a difference! Try to stick to the deadlines and don't get behind and everything will be done by June 6th! Don't Worry!!!
Michelle Ellis, Kindergarten Teacher

It is a stressful time of year but a wonderful time of celebration. Susan has mentioned the "Fish" book and I think if those goals are kept in mind everything falls into place. Imagine a workplace where everyone chooses to bring energy, passion, and a positive attitude to the job every day. Imagine an environment in which people are truly connected to their work, to their colleagues, and to their customers.
Loving every minute of it.....
KK Cherney, Media Specialist

As a new teacher, the end of the year is a completely overwhelming time. I can remember thinking to myself last year, 'will this ever end?' The answer is, yes! And after it's all said and done you have a huge sense of accomplishment, you are drained in every way possible, but you know you got it done. If I can offer any advice to my fellow newbies, it would be this... There are two important things to remember as the end of the year draws near: 1) Try to take things one at a time. As teachers we are natural multi-taskers, but it makes a huge difference when you do something and can check it off your list, rather than starting twelve projects and not finishing any of them in a timely manner. 2) Remember that you can always ask for help. As a control freak, I tend to forget that there are people out there who care and want to help. I am one of those people who go into lock down mode and try to figure things out on my own, but I've realized that it's ok to need people and to ask for a hand out of the hole.
Rachel Happ, Kindergarten, 2nd year teacher

Make a list of everything....prioritize it....then do a little each week
**everyone is different...don't worry about what "veteran teachers" are doing
**if your worried about a "due date" talk to someone you trust and have him/her help you prioritize those ones with "due dates"
Victoria Groves, 1st Grade Teacher

Once you get the final checklist, map out and schedule in your planner - when to do everything. Some of the things can be checked off and done early like furniture inventory. There will be things you can't do until the last day so it helps to plan out those 'final days' and not feel tied down because the list is so long. Another tip is to do CUM folders ASAP. It is very tedious and you don't want to make an error. It is better to get that done first. You'd be surprised if you take a few tasks a day how much you'll accomplish. I also printed labels for the CUM folder sheet that gets inserted in. This saved time instead of handwriting them all.
Denise Evanko, 2nd Grade Teacher

To save time...type comments for yellow cards on small labels. Most people can type faster than they can write. Huge time saver!!
Ashley B. Russell, 3rd Grade Teacher

The PE Department is going to make our end-of-the-year so much easier this year by having their Play Day the last week of school so we don't have to plan a huge outside party event. Thank you for that wonderful gift!

While it might seem easier to put in a video and get your work done, the truth is that it's easier to keep the routine as near to the same as possible until the very last day. If you start moving and cleaning and watching the cartoon marathon weeks before the end, the children will sense that it's all over and you'll find yourself miserable. It's hard to get a class back once you let them go!

Use Susan's end-of-the-year packet as your bible. Go through it as soon as you get it and complete the things that you can. Mark each due date on a calendar to make sure you don't miss anything. Take some time with the yellow promotion cards and really try to get every one right. It's a teacher's first impression of each child and teachers return to them over and over. Also take some time with the Principal's Survey because, believe it or not, the Leadership Team goes over every suggestion and comment as they reflect and plan for the new year.

Make sure to ask a veteran teacher how they close out the end of the year. What do they do special for their students? How do they honor the Homeroom moms who have helped all year? Do they do anything special for the custodians? You might decide that it's all too much for you, and if it is, just acknowledge that and go on. After all, the vets have had years to figure all this out, but they do have hints for saving time and through trial and error, may have found some things that really make a difference.

The end of the year can get very frantic, but I think the thing to remember is that these are the last few days that you will spend with this class of children that have become like family. It will be your last chance to let them know how special you think they are. Let's face it, they won't care if you get the furniture inventory in on time, but they will care what you say to them the last few days. They, or their parents, will save those little end of the year awards or nice notes and postcards that you send. My daughter, Courtney, and I just took out letters that both her fourth and fifth grade teachers wrote to her on the last day of school (They both hand wrote a letter to every single student - still amazes me!) It meant so much then and it means even more now! Make sure to give each of your students something to remember about their special year with you - something to sustain them throughout the summer. You'll be glad you did!

Dayle Timmons, Special Education Teacher

Just smile and stay as calm as possible...take one day at a time. Lynn Patterson, 3rd Grade Teacher


KK Cherney said...

What a wonderful resource for teachers who have just begun the journey.

Ashley Russell said...

Thanks for this post. Even as a "not new teacher" (avoiding the word "old"), these hints are useful. I can't believe it's almost that time again!
-Ashley Russell :)