In today’s episode we’re going to be talking about some easy things you can begin implementing in your classroom to help you survive the end of the year. Because, let’s be honest, that can really be what it feels like sometimes at this point – SURVIVAL.
So, let’s get through the end of the year together using these 3 simple ideas you can use today if you’d like!
Alright, number one is easier said than done.
Keep your students busy. Keep them engaged. But don’t make it hard on yourself. Take a break from lesson planning. This tip might be obvious, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving students an assignment at this time of year that you have no intention of grading. Yikes – yep, I said it! And if you need to grade it, you could simply do a credit/no credit assignment.
One of my favorite ways to keep students busy and engaged is with escape rooms. But I know these can be incredibly time-consuming to set up sometimes. So let me give you a little hint: I use digital escape rooms where the set up is literally as easy as copying and pasting a link into a new Google Classroom Announcement.
Let me give you an example. We’re currently in the midst of reading the “Cask of Amontillado” (always an awesome read at the end of the year). And once we finish the short story, I have my students participate in a digital escape room I found on Teachers Pay Teachers last year. Every time I have used this resource with my kids, they are immediately engaged, working diligently with their partner, and my favorite part is that they’re thinking critically, they’re thinking outside the box, their thinking in a very different way as they approach these complex tasks!
So go ahead and see if you can find a good digital escape room that works for what you’re currently doing in your classroom.
Another activity that I do at the end of the year with my students that’s super easy, fun, and really keeps them engaged while working on their writing is my Design Your Dream House Descriptive Writing Unit that I do.
- Essentially, I have my kids take on the role of a potential home buyer, and use descriptive writing strategies to create a paragraph that describes their Dream House.
- So in this activity, my kids are identifying strong vocabulary and descriptive phrases, they’re transforming boring sentences into detailed descriptions – so much good stuff.
- Then, at the end, they create a real estate flyer advertising their Dream House for Sale!
- Seriously, my students love this activity. But I love it because my kids are engaged and learning!
Moving onto #2, which is something we ALL need to do.
And yes, we hear it over and over again on social media that it’s like we become numb to it, but I’m going to say it again anyhow because I really do believe it and really do think it’s important.
TREAT YOURSELF. There, I said it again!
Treat yourself! Seriously though. Here are some easy things you can do that I’ve found make a big difference for me this time of year:
- Give yourself permission to leave school one day when your students do
- Get together with some colleagues and order lunch and eat outside together in the sun (I love this one, and we do it all the time at my school)
- Take a walk after dinner instead of endlessly grading (I promise, it will all get graded)
- Watch your favorite show and enjoy a glass of a nice bottle of wine.
These aren’t too glamorous or over the top, but these little things allow us to enjoy the little things – they allow us to stop and just BE. Which is exactly what we need more of this time of year.
Okay, my third and final point, which I absolutely love, and if you follow us on Instagram, you’ve seen me talk about this already, but you need to be using PEP TALKS EVERY DAY!
Every day! For you. For your students. For everyone!
I like to equate this to working out. I’m really not into going to the gym, or going on a run – anything like that. It’s just not really something I’m super passionate about, but I know I have to do it to stay healthy and hopefully live longer.
So when I go to those classes, you bet your butt that I need someone to motivate me ALL the way through until the end. That’s what we need to do for our students RIGHT NOW.
As my dad always told me, those final minutes or seconds of a game, that last mile of the race, THAT is when we work the hardest because THAT is what separates the champions from everyone else.
So, our kids are TIRED right now. Dang, so are we! But that’s the point of what my dad said. When we’re tired, when it’s the end, when we feel like we cannot go on for even another second, THAT is when we need to dig deep and get it done. Make it to the finish line with our heads held high, proud of our accomplishments.
So every morning from now until the last day of school, I challenge you to give your kids a little pep talk. Remind them of what my dad said – seriously, take that and use it in your classroom. These last weeks? THIS is when they need to shine and show you everything of what they’ve got. To not cheat themselves of these last opportunities to share their greatness with you and with their classmates.
GIVE IT THEIR ALL.
And last of all, tell them to enjoy. Enjoy these last moments together. These last memories made. Because these are the times that they’ll look back and say, “Man, I’m so glad Mrs. Mitchell kept pushing me to my best self.”
Because that’s what we do, my friends. We teach our students, yes. But we also inspire them. We change their perspective. We force them outside of their comfort zones, so they can live up to their fullest potential. We make a difference.
YOU make a difference. So make that difference from right now until the very last moment you are with your kids.
And then close your doors, and enjoy your summer, knowing you gave it everything you have.
And with that, I’ll sign off for the day, but before I do, I just want to reiterate that I really do want you to take the time and reflect on the message here today about sticking through with your best self until the end. We need those little pep talks as much as our students do. So really take this into your classroom. Implement it and see the difference made 🙂
Links mentioned in this episode:
To download this episode, just click here!
Want to listen to even more episodes?
- Episode #1: 3 Simple Ways to Create Student Buy In
- Episode #3: Constructive Criticism: How to Change Your Mindset and Be Open to Feedback
- Episode #6: Keeping Students Engaged through the End of the Year