It’s been a great year! You’re in the final stretch now. You should feel proud about how how far your kids have come and how hard you’ve worked getting them to where they are now. Once again, your classroom has turned into your second home. Full of love, laughter, and learning. However, all good things must come to an end. And with that end comes long days of testing, grading, organizing, packing, and cleaning. So much to do — so little time. To help, I’ve compiled a list of 10 tips for the end of the year.
Start Each Day on a Positive Note
Regardless of how stressed or tired you are, try to put it aside as you begin your days. When you wake up, think about something that makes you happy. Putting a note on your desk at school each day will ensure you wake up and think happy thoughts! I spread positive vibes to my students by placing a positive note home on someone’s desk each day. I remind him or her to work hard to keep the note there all day. If they can do it, they take the note home!
Contain Your Focus
Be in the moment while you’re teaching; this is the last time you and your students will all be together as a family. During the final few weeks of school, I share with my kids how many days we have left together each morning after I’ve greeted them. At that time, I also remind them that we want to make the last few weeks really special and try to keep excellent behavior. Do your best to give all of your attention to your students and be present. They deserve it!
Strive for Routine
Keep your routine as much as possible. This will help you stay focused and avoid unnecessary stress. Keep your classroom routine as well. Routines help children by reducing stress and anxiety. A few daily “non-nonnegotiables” in my room are literacy centers, quiet reading time, guided reading, and writing workshop. Sure, they may look a little different at the end of the year, but time is still allotted for these things every day. You’ll thank yourself for sticking with the daily routines in your classroom!
Plan some extra art projects for your students. I love these cheery suns that my kids make every May. We also do a big farm animal research project in May with lots of crafting! And taking your class outside to read a story or to practice sight words with chalk is a blast!
Go with the flow. It’s May and things are going to come up. Impromptu meetings that might interrupt your plan for after school. Related arts getting cancelled due to an event at school. The library closing early so the librarian can shelve books and take inventory. Situations will arise and they may not be ideal for you. But remember, there are many other people in your building. Take the changes as they come and embrace them! It’s the end of the year. Refer to Tip #4 for a reminder.
Celebrate the accomplishments of your students. They’ve worked hard this year! I like to show my students their writing samples from early in the year and now. They can’t believe the difference. The kids also enjoy receiving their scrapbooks and looking back on the pages they made throughout the year! Celebrate the hard work and growth your students have made. Invite family members in to celebrate with you. I host a Poetry Cafe every May where the kids share the poetry they wrote during our unit of study. Having an end of the year awards ceremony is also a great way to celebrate!
Keep lists/notes to help you stay organized on what you need to accomplish for the end of the year and even the fall. I carry around a small notebook that is my saving grace! It’s full of lists for all sorts of things. I make a list for materials I’d like for my classroom the following year, a list of end of the year projects, a list for summer projects, and more. It helps me stay focused on what I need to do and ensures I get everything accomplished.
Prepare for Next Year
Are there things that can be prepared now to alleviate extra stress in the fall? I try to plan for the end of the year and the fall simultaneously. I always copy my data binder contents, monthly reading logs, handwriting books, and journals in the spring. I also assemble my poetry folders. Walking into the school in the fall with these tasks done is always such a nice surprise!
Take Time for Yourself
In the midst of all the chaos, take some time for yourself. Book a massage, treat yourself to a pedicure, head to a coffee shop with a good book or magazine. Try taking an entire evening for yourself by leaving your teacher bag at school! You’ll be surprised how relaxed you will feel. One way I treat myself is by getting a massage in May. It helps me get relaxed and ready to tackle those last few weeks!
Think back on your year. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What goals do you have for the upcoming year? Are there any books you’d like to read during the summer to help yourself grow professionally? A few books on my summer reading list are: Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller, Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L. Layne, and Teaching With Intention by Debbie Miller.
Cherish each final day with your students and remember that you are making a difference. Have a wonderful last few weeks of school!
I am Megan Wheeler and I have been blogging at Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade for 6 years. I’ve been a 1st grade teacher for 13 great years and still love it! In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family, creating new things for my classroom, traveling, reading, working out, and shopping. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and at my TpT store. Hope to see you soon!