The Progression

May 2016

Tricks to Get Your Students Through the Last Week of School

1. Make some new rules. Classroom management often gets tough this time of year, but inventing a new, silly rule can help kids refocus and keep kids on task. For example, you might establish a "rule" that everyone needs to lip sync to a favorite song while you walk down the hallway.

2. Take an extra recess. Studies actually show that the more active kids are, the better they learn. So carve out some extra recess time—even if it’s just 10 minutes—to get them refreshed and focused on the day.

3. Set a daily goal. Let’s be honest—sometimes weekly goals just get lost in the shuffle. So try a daily goal instead. Example: "Today we will have no problems when we line up."

4. Start each day with inspiration. This is a good one to get kids involved. Have them research inspiring quotes from famous people, and then let them take turns reciting new ones each day.

5. Stttttttrrrrreeeeetttttcccchhhhh. Take a minute at least three times a day and get your students up to stretch their arms and legs. This is a little thing, but it can make a big difference.

6. Read a book about summer. Pick out a book for read-aloud time that will get them looking forward to summer. This One Summer and Summer of the Monkeys are both good options.

7. Take the lesson outside. Outside time always rejuvenates you and them. Now that the weather is finally getting nice, it’s a great time for an outdoor classroom.

8. Jam out to some music. Like the need to stretch, sometimes music can really be the ticket to hitting the reset button.

9. Trade your class. Maybe you already know the joys of co-teaching, but if not, give it a try. Talk to a colleague and trade classes with them for about an hour once or twice a week. It might be just the thing you need to shake things up a bit.

10. Invite a special guest to your classroom. A pep talk can go a long way. Even if it's just your principal or guidance counselor, have them come in and talk to students about getting through the end of the year.

11. Sprinkle in a few jokes. Get out some index cards and write down a few dozen jokes. Tell students you’ll pull out a joke if they stay focused and on-task. It’s a small thing, but it gives them something to look forward to.

12. Change up your classroom layout. Maybe you just need to move desks around. Or perhaps you want to relocate the reading area. Get students involved so it isn't a lot of extra work for you during this busy time of year.

13. Go back to the first day of school. Get all of your students to pretend like it’s the very first day of school. Welcome them to your classroom and tell them the rules. You might be surprised to see how effective this can be once you give them a reminder of classroom expectations.

14. Have a stuffed animal day. Let all your students bring in an animal for the day, and have them sit on their desks to listen to the day’s lessons. In turn, your students will likely listen to the lessons better, too.

Rejuvenate Yourself Over the Summer Break!

Decompress.

The concept of spare time is a foreign one for teachers. When summer arrives, teachers often need a couple of weeks to adjust and to realize that they are NOT behind on grading homework.

Pamper Yourself.

Even though the idea of relaxation may be harder for some than others, it is still important that teachers take time in the summer for things that they truly enjoy doing – not things they have to do. There are a multitude of things that can provide an escape, from attending to a garden, to getting a massage, to going on a cruise. Do whatever floats your boat (pun not intended). Stepping away from school will help you become a better teacher.

Reflect.

Speaking of stepping away, summer time also provides the important opportunity to look back at the highs and lows of the previous school year. Examine the lows and critically think about what you could do to avoid these situations in the next year, but focus mainly on the highs so that you can cultivate a positive attitude within your subconscious about the upcoming school year.

Inspire Yourself.

Another helpful way to rekindle positive feelings about your job as a teacher is to rediscover why you became one in the first place. Who doesn’t lose sight of a few things during hectic times?

Say Thank You.

While you’re feeling all those lovely positive feelings after re-inspiring yourself, take the time to say those two simple words: “Thank you.” For all the occasions a colleague helped you out, put your newly-acquired spare time to good use by actually properly thanking those people for their kindness. It can be as simple as sending a card or a note, but it’s still important. You haven’t forgotten how they made you feel, so let them know about the difference they made. Send them to your fellow teachers and even to administrators. This is a great way to create friendships and build a strong network that you will be able to rely on for any help you may need in the future. If you’re feeling particularly grateful, maybe even take the time to send a thank you note to that coworker you don’t always get along with so well.

Reconnect.

As you busy yourself cultivating new friendships, don’t forget about the ones who have always been there for you. Take this opportunity to reconnect with friends – ask them about their lives and show them that even when times get busy, you still value their friendships.

Create Family Time.

Just as maintaining healthy friendships is important, even more so is giving your all to your family. If you have kids, as a teacher, you realize that staying involved in what is going on in your children’s lives is of the highest importance. Use the summer as an opportunity for bonding by planning family adventures. Make sure you also show your spouse how thankful you are for their support and patience – let them know you haven’t forgotten how understanding they were when you spent all those long nights conducting parent-teacher meetings and grading papers.

Plan Parent Involvement.

Take some time to come up with ideas that will get parents involved in helping out with the classroom next fall. Make a letter to send to the parents of all your new students that expresses how crucial parent volunteers are for a successful classroom environment. Make up a syllabus for your classroom next year and be sure to include a note to parents to include their e-mail addresses so you can keep them in the loop.

Learn Something New.

Whether it’s taking up a hobby (such as pottery or painting), or signing up for a class at a local community college, learning something new will give you even more inspiration, knowledge, and skills to draw from when planning lessons and activities for next year.