5 Tips for Reducing End-of-School Stress16:15
How can we possibly be talking about the end of the school year already, right? Wrong! Many schools around the country are now into their last quarter of school. My district only has 7 weeks left, and I am already dreaming of warm weather, trips to visit friends, and ice cold sweet tea. Although it is exciting, every veteran teacher knows how stressful the end of the school year can be.
There seems to be an endless amount of assessments, paperwork, meetings, etc. and it can be extremely overwhelming. If you're like me, you just want to spend the last few weeks enjoying the time you have left with your group of kiddos, not running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
While I would not say I am completely stress-free at the end of the year, I have discovered several ways to greatly reduce stress and allow the last few weeks to be a more enjoyable time for both me and my students.
1. Order End-of-Year Gifts Before the End of April
Purchase (or make!) all of your end-of-year gifts for your students, parent volunteers, and coworkers before the last month of school, if not earlier than that! Our team purchased student gifts back in January, and they are hiding in my closet. I will be purchasing other small gifts for my room moms, parent volunteers, teacher's assistant, and my teammates over the next week or so. To reduce the financial burden, buy a gift card or two every paycheck and stock up over the next few weeks! Also, next time you are at Target grab a pack of thank-you cards, and go ahead and write your notes one night while watching your favorite TV show! You will be so thankful to have a head start!
2. Complete as Much of Report Cards as Humanly Possible
Complete as much as you can for your students' report cards NOW. This tip will mostly benefit K-2 teachers who are using standards-based report cards. In our district there are over 150 standards on our report card and it is HANDWRITTEN! They take forever. I do not suggest doing ALL of the report card now, but, if a student has mastered a specific skill, use one or two of your planning times next week to move over the score to the last 9 weeks so you have less to fill in at the end of the year. Additionally, go ahead and write your year end message in the comments section! Since you won't be rushed, you will have more time to write thoughtful notes to your sweet students!
3. Store and Organize All of the Things
Okay....maybe not ALL of the things, but storing things you are no longer utilizing in your classroom will make your room less cluttered and give you less to go through and move at the end of the year. If you have a lot of parent support in your school, ask a parent to come in and help you organize! For example, I have my reading curriculum organized in baskets by unit. Each unit has three weeks, and by the end of the year, many of the weeks are mixed up. Last year I had a sweet mom come in and organize them all for me. It was such a huge help! Think of different tasks that you would like completed by the end of the school year and which of those you could delegate to someone else. Contact them now to put a date on the calendar.
4. Designate an Easily Accessible Area for End-of-Year Student Work
Kids have so much stuff to take home at the end of the year! Calendar journals, memory books, news journals, dictionaries, word family workbooks, crayon boxes, special writing projects from throughout the year....these are just a few of the items that my kids take home the last week of school. To get an early start on organizing these items, place whatever container you are using for storage (we use pizza boxes, but I've seen some teachers use reusable grocery bags) in a place that is easily accessible to your students. My team lines our pizza boxes outside in the hallway, but if you have some shelves available in your room, you could use them instead! As resources are completed, have students put them in their designated bag or box. Send them home a few days before the last day of school.
5. Practice Self-Care
I know it's hard to do sometimes, but taking care of yourself should be a priority! You will be more relaxed and have more endorphins. And you know what Elle Woods said about endorphins! Make a list of your favorite ways to take care of yourself and try to do one each day. Need some ideas? Reading a book, diffusing essential oils, taking a bubble bath, drinking a cup of hot tea or a glass of wine, lighting your favorite candle, and attending your favorite exercise class are just a few things that you can do on a daily basis to love on yourself!
I love discovering new ways to reduce stress! Do you have any additional tips? Share in the comments below!
by Erin Coley