With less than 5 weeks to go, some are in summer mode, both teachers and students, and others continue to push on. At the end of every day with my students I say, “There goes another day in 5th grade but boy we have a lot to do.” In our room there is a sense of urgency; a need for efficiency, hard work and a little bit of pressure because the learning just does not have time to wait. Students are busy with larger end of the year projects and I work more as consultant than direct instructor. Sure side conversations slip in but overall there is a sense of mission. A sense of using the year to the fullest degree, of finishing with a bang rather than a fizzle.
So what can we do to keep ourselves motivated?
- Reach out and speak to someone new. We tend to retract during this time, feeling that our schedules are overpacked and there is so much to do but there is something about reaching out and making a new connection. Whether it is with a student, a colleague, or a parent even, now is the time to continue to build relationships. It provides spark and energy and new ideas, what else could you want in May.
- Get heavily invested. I am very invested in these end of the year projects and I am in new territory with all of them. Students are acting as teachers in one with an assessment piece even tied in by them. Another lets us use Adobe Elements which I have never attempted, you get the drift. Instead of resting and trying something safe, I continue to push it and it keeps me revitalized, which directly translates to the energy level of the classroom.
- Now is the time for conversation. Although my mind is fully in this year, knowing I have a maternity leave coming up, I want to make sure I set my sub up with the best options, so my students and I speak a lot about what works and what doesn’t. How would they tweak the classroom, how would they alter projects and so forth. I, in turn, listen and take notes, changing as I go.
- Trust them more. I see some teachers pull in the reins and really try to control students more as the end of year nears. And yes, energy levels are up across the board and yet, I give mine more leeway. I trust them more to make the right decisions, to represent, and to push themselves. They have grown so much over the year, now is the time to acknowledge that.
- Crank the music. And don’t take yourself so seriously. Yes, you may be frazzled with so much to do, we all are, but is it fair to give that to the students? I try to laugh more, smile more, and dance more as the year comes to a close. We al need the body breaks and you an get a lot of classroom cleaning done with a great 80’s song blaring.
- Stay with the kids. And with that I mean, in your mind and in your heart. I always have an awful time letting go of “my” kids even though I know they are ready, but it is something I pride myself on. These kids know I am fully focused on them and on their academics. They know that I want to hear their stories and I want to support them. Even though our official year is almost over does not mean our relationship is. So I continue to work on all of my relationships with them to ensure that they know that they belong, that they are accepted, and that room 310 will always be their home, no matter how old they get.