Many people think the weeks leading up to the last day of school means teachers have a glorious summer break in their sights. The truth is, the end of the school year can actually be the most stressful for teachers. In addition to normal lessons and prep work, there are final grades to prepare, end-of-the-year celebrations and field trips, organizing the classroom inventory and paperwork, and even final in-class evaluations at a time when students are the most antsy.
Don’t sweat, even if the weather is getting warmer. Follow these tips to help ease your stress and make the end of the school year a triumph!
Yes, the summer is within sight. Yes, there is a mountain of work and accomplishments that need to be met before you can hit the beach. It doesn’t mean you have to be down on yourself. Now’s the time to be your own cheerleader. Celebrate the final weeks with the students you’ve grown to know so well. They’re moving on soon. Be proud of the work you’ve done so far, and know you’re going to stay with it until the very end. Bask in the rays of positivity and keep yourself motivated and smiling. This alone can be the strongest shield against stress, and it all comes from within.
Great expectations for yourself and your students each day is a wonderful goal to have, but this time of year is when you need to be able to decide what’s most important. This is true for what you cover and teach in your lessons, as well as how you decide what you need to work on outside of the classroom. Calling parents of students who need a boost is more important than organizing your past lesson plans. Scheduling review sessions for your students may be more important than trying out a new lesson you picked up at a conference or professional development seminar. Save these for next year or over the summer, when you have more time to plan. Make sure the work you are doing now is the only work you need to get done. Keep it simple.
At this point in the year, you’ve set up all your student expectations. Your routines play out naturally. Now’s not the time to experiment or deviate from your own standards. Keep each day’s plan as simple as you can. You’ll need to make room for review sessions, so allow yourself the flexibility by keeping all your plans as clear and manageable as you can.
Go on and sweat it out. Make sure to keep up on your workout routines. Exercise is a natural stress eliminator. Endorphins help soothe the mind. It can also be treated as a reward for a hard day's work, or a top of the morning accomplishment if you do it before work. Don’t make excuses. There is very little time in the day, so make this a priority. It’s too valuable to the rest of your work to skip.
Talk it Out
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t keep it to yourself. Turn to a friend, loved one, or trusted colleague and allow yourself to vent. Finding an ear willing to listen could result in good advice and a fresh perspective. Keeping it bottled up will only cause more stress for you. It’s amazing what a release and relief it can be to just know someone is listening and looking out for you.
It’s Friday and you have papers to grade? Still go to Happy Hour with your colleagues. You survived an evaluation this week? Pick your favorite show on Netflix and binge-watch this weekend. Go out to dinner. Find a coffee shop, bring a book, and just read for yourself. Take your breaks when you can and enjoy your life. It will make these last few weeks much more manageable.
Cut Out the Noise
This is a chance to take a month out of your personal life and streamline it to only what is necessary. If you have people who are creating negativity, take a break from them now. If you have situations and commitments that are troublesome or difficult, allow yourself to step away for the month. Clear away anything that keeps you from staying focused on finishing out the year. You have time coming up after school lets out for the summer, so give yourself a reprieve from outside stress and make this month easier for you overall.