If you’re feeling exhausted, that’s understandable. The school year can be long and demanding. These three strategies will help you stay positive as you and your students head into summer.
By the end of a long school year, anything can set you on edge — gum underneath a desk, that one student who still forgets a writing utensil, or incomplete assignments combined with desperate students. How can you keep your cool and focus on the positive with the finish line in sight? Rely on the three Rs: Reflect, Remind, and Recognize.
Reflect on the moments that mattered
Take a few minutes at the end of each day, or even at the end of a busy week, to think of a handful of moments that made you happy. Maybe it was a hilarious question or comment, a vulnerable discussion you had with your students, or a positive conversation with a parent.
Write the moments on individual sticky notes and place them where you’ll see them during the week, like on your computer monitor or desk. Reflecting on positive moments will keep you centered and motivated to keep going when work becomes stressful.
Remind your students of what’s important
Just like you, students get tired at the end of the year and sometimes even discouraged. You can encourage them to do well while reminding them of what’s more important than any test score — a love of learning.
Once a day: Each morning, write a meaningful quote on your whiteboard before your students arrive. Before diving into lessons, hold a five-minute discussion on what the quote means to them, and how it might apply to the day ahead. This is a great way to focus students’ attention on something uplifting and, in turn, remind them of the bigger picture.
Once a week: Show your students that actively participating in their own emotional well-being is a good thing — and that you value it, too. On Fridays, set aside a few minutes at the end of the day to ask the question: “How are you doing?” Let students write their answers down and share out loud if they feel comfortable. Ask them what they could do during the weekend to relieve stress, or share a few of your own tips for decompressing.
Recognize growth in yourself and your class
The end of the year is the perfect time to recognize growth and share it with each other. It builds community among students and provides a wonderful example for how to approach life outside the classroom, as well.
When you or your students learn something new, accomplish a task, or make a positive change, celebrate! Depending on how many students you have, you might create a unique award for each one, even if it’s something goofy — think of it as “the Dundies and Oscars and Pulitzer Prize all rolled into one.”
A final reminder: Don’t make yourself feel bad for feeling stressed at a stressful time. There are always ways to reset during the chaos of the final quarter. In the words of Anne Lamott, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes — including you.”