Confession: I am a school principal and I struggle with the last month of the school year.
Why is that, you ask?
First of all, I think I have just about a million meetings scheduled between now and the end of the year. And that might be an underestimate. And then there is state testing and state reporting documentation. Oh yeah, we need to hire some teachers. And plan for next year. And some more state reporting. And squeezing in a few more meetings.
It is busy.
It is hard to keep normalcy this time of the school year. The struggle is real.
The same can be said for classroom teachers. Because, guess who is typically in those meetings with me? And administering the state testing? And trying to squeeze in the rest of the curriculum? And assessing students for report cards? And trying to help tired students be nice to each other and engage in learning? The teachers’ struggle is even realer than mine.
So what can we do about it? There are many strategies that can help us end the school year strong that work for principals and teachers. Here are just a few:
- Decide which routines need to be kept in place. For teachers, take a careful look at your day and determine which routines are the most important to keep the structure of the day intact through the #lastbell. Principals, do the same. If it is really helpful to the school to have you visible during arrival, dismissal, lunch, recess, etc. then prioritize those times.
- Smile, dance, have fun. Help your colleagues by laughing together, which has a funny way of lightening their load this time of year. While you are at it, do the same with your students. Enjoy each other, celebrate the strong, positive relationships you have developed.
- Incorporate choice as much as possible. Students are yearning for some freedom this time of year and we can provide that by giving them choices throughout the day–choosing where to work and choosing how to demonstrate their learning are just a couple examples of ways to provide choice. Quite often, especially at this time of the year, students will make choices that work against the functions of the classroom if we don’t give them freedom within what we ask them to do. Principals need to keep in mind that teachers need freedom and choice too.
I love this quote by Walter Elliot:
“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.”
Isn’t that so true? To finish the year strong, let’s look at each week or each day as its own short race. If we can end each day with better relationships than the day before, with a little more knowledge than the day before, and loving learning just a little more than the day before, we will WIN this school year.
P.S. One more struggle I have? I don’t want it to end. I didn’t go into education for the summers off. None of us did. I am my best when I am with our amazing teachers and incredible students. Summer is fun, don’t get me wrong. Being in school is just more fun.