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From Surviving to Thriving: Tips for Teachers in End of the Year Survival Mode

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As the end of the school year approaches, many teachers find themselves in “survival mode” – just trying to make it through the last few weeks. 

And exactly 4 years ago today, was the day I wanted to give up on teaching. You see I had been wrapping up my first year of teaching as a Kindergarten Teacher in a small town in New Mexico. It was my students graduation, and as I watched their little hands hold their diplomas, I started to lose it. I started tearing up because at that moment I realized…

I. Had. Failed. Them.

The entire year I was so wrapped up in the doing that I forgot in the being. 

I wasn’t the teacher I knew I could be at 5 years old when I decided to be a teacher. Not only had I failed my students that year, but I also failed myself. 

It was at that moment that I decided enough was enough. I am going to figure out a way to get out of survival mode and start being the teacher I know I could be.

And I did!

Not only did I finally start becoming the teacher I knew I could be, but I have helped teachers around the world do the same. 

You see, with a few tips and strategies, it’s possible to finish the year strong and avoid burnout. You don’t have to be in “survival mode.” If anything you can continue thriving and being the teacher you were always meant to be. 

With that in mind, here are some ideas to help you get out of survival mode and end the year on a high note.

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Prioritize self-care.

One of the best ways to get out of teacher “survival mode” at the end of the year is to focus on taking care of yourself. 

It’s easy for teachers to put their own needs on the back burner during the busy school year, but self-care is crucial for avoiding burnout. Now when I say self-care, I don’t mean the buzz word admin throws around. 

What I mean is to start incorporating these simple steps:

  1. Ask yourself what you need right now.
  2. Take action.

That’s it! It’s that simple. Do I mean start a crazy workout routine in the morning before school at the gym? Of course not!

What I mean is it’s important to start showing up for yourself and giving yourself the time and space you need throughout the day. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish – it’s necessary for being able to take care of your students.

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    Simplify lesson planning and grading.

    As the end of the school year approaches, it can be tempting to try to cram in as much content as possible. However, this can lead to burnout for both teachers and students. If you are feeling exhausted, your students are most likely feeling it too. 

     Instead, simplify your lesson planning by focusing on the most important concepts and skills. Consider using project-based learning or other hands-on activities to engage students and make learning more enjoyable. 

    When it comes to grading, consider using rubrics or other streamlined methods to save time and reduce stress. Remember, the goal is not to do everything perfectly, but to finish the year strong and set yourself up for success in the future.

    Celebrate accomplishments and milestones.

    As the school year comes to a close, it’s important to take time to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of both yourself and your students. Instead of getting caught up in all of the “to-do’s,” Make sure to set some time aside to enjoy these last few weeks with your kids. I guarantee over summer you are going to look back at the memories you made this year, NOT how much work you got done.

    Set some time aside to celebrate the progress your students have made, and most importantly that YOU made. This can be as simple as having a class party or creating a bulletin board showcasing student work. Looking at where your students were at the beginning of the year to now is also another way to celebrate. And taking some time to reflect on how much you have learned this school year.

     Recognizing the hard work and progress made throughout the year can boost morale and provide a sense of closure. It also sets a positive tone for the next school year and helps students feel motivated to continue learning and growing.

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      Stay organized and focused.

      With the end of the school year comes a flurry of activities and tasks that can easily overwhelm even the most organized of teachers (trust me). To stay on top of things, create a to-do list and prioritize tasks based on their importance and deadline. 

      This is where those systems at the beginning of the year are really important. Use a planner or calendar to keep track of important dates and events. It’s also important to stay focused on the present moment and avoid getting too caught up in planning for the future. Take breaks when needed and remember to take care of yourself both physically and mentally.

      Collaborate with colleagues for support and inspiration.

      When you’re feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, it can be helpful to lean on your colleagues for support and inspiration. Collaborate with other teachers to share ideas, resources, and strategies for managing end-of-year tasks and activities. You don’t have to do this alone. Whether it’s a mentor online, or the teacher next door, it’s important to lean on your support group during this time. 

      You can also use this time to reflect on the school year and celebrate your successes together. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice when you need it – remember, you’re all in this together!

      Overall

      All in all, there are several ways to get out of teacher survival mode at the end of the school year. Some strategies include:

      • Prioritize your self-care
      • Simplify lesson planning and grading
      • Celebrate accomplishments and milestones
      • Stay organize and focused
      • Collaborate with colleagues and your support network

      As always remember we are stronger together!

      Love,

      Helena