In many ways, this school year has felt like a marathon. The start was daunting, but also tinged with determination. The pandemic had forced educators to think outside the box and we were determined to reach the finish line. Now that we’re near the end, many of us are exhausted and trying to push through the end-of-year strain. As a marathoner myself, I know how exhausting those last few miles can feel, but every runner knows you don’t have to face them alone.

The same is true for these last few weeks of school. This final stretch can be difficult, but there are tools, resources, and people who can help you finish the school year strong. Here are just a few strategies to help your students stay engaged and focused as your classroom nears the finish line!

4 Tips for Ending the School Year Strong
  1. Get Outside: Want to spark student inquiry while also burning off some of that excess energy? Take your learning outside! Studies have shown that that interactions with nature can improve both mental health and physical well-being. Consider trying one of the four engaging activities in our free AMAYzing Outdoors lesson.
  2. Celebrate: Set aside some time to celebrate all that you and your students have accomplished this year. Have students vote on their Top 10 Achievements by highlighting fun or impactful things they did at school. You could also have each student create a page of a scrapbook to further memorialize the year. Check out this memory book template for inspiration.
  3. Prioritize: There’s still a lot to cover in these last few days of school. It helps to know what should take priority, and what subjects can be combined. What is going to have the greatest impact? Use these Standards Scoring Sheets to help you prioritize for the end of the year or guide your curriculum planning this fall.
  4. Reflect on the Year: Before leaving for the summer, it’s always good to pause and reflect. What tools or strategies worked well this year? What didn’t? Make a list of all those things you want to keep doing, start doing, or stop doing for the next school year. It also helps to consider different areas of professional growth. Try writing down your immediate reaction to buzzwords like “differentiated instruction”, “SEL”, or “equity”. If some are not as appealing as others, it is probably an area of professional growth for you.
Your Summer Vacation Schedule

Like I said, I’m a runner. I know how much work it takes to finish a marathon. But what comes afterwards is just as important, and that’s rest. Your body needs time to recover from its ordeal, and let me tell you, the same is true for these last days of teaching! Once classes have concluded, take some time to rest, restore, and revitalize yourself. Here are just a few things that can help:

  • Be “Out of Office”: Give yourself the grace to walk away. After you have reflected and tied up all loose ends for the year, allow yourself a break. You deserve to walk away for a bit and reclaim some much-needed time for yourself.
  • Do a Digital Detox: Try limiting yourself a little each day from checking your phone. Turn off your notifications. Challenge yourself to go an hour without a device, then up that a little each day. Trust me, your brain will thank you!
  • Make a Relaxation Plan: There are always other things we could/should be doing–dishes, laundry, etc.., but if you don’t plan for relaxation, it may never happen. Add activities such as yoga, mindfulness, hammocking, exercise, and reading to your calendar. Make these non-negotiable and resolve to enjoy your “me” time!

Don’t let the challenges of these final days intimidate you. The finish line is in sight, and you have the knowledge, skill, and grit to finish strong. And once it’s over, give yourself permission to relax!

*Today’s blog provided by Dawn McCotter.

We hope you are all staying healthy and safe during this difficult time. For more free educational resources, or ideas on how to promote healthy SEL, simply follow this link!