Last week, the first sentence of an article for teachers caught my eye and then my gut – “It’s the end of the year…..” – I have no idea what was discussed in the article because I was numbed by the realization and panic that gripped me. Rather than a, “woohoo!”, I felt an, “ack!” as I realized what I read was true – the end of the school year is indeed upon us and I still have mountains of things I need/want to do.
I thought that it might be helpful for new teachers to know that it is a common occurrence for many teachers, new or seasoned, at this time of the year to feel as if they are running out of time to teach everything in the curriculum, to finish up projects and assessments, to get to things they meant to cover but hadn’t started yet, to adequately prepare students for EQAO and have something meaningful for students to become engaged in afterwards, etc., etc. And it’s not as if we’ve been doing nothing all year long, it’s just that we’ve likely been doing a LOT of EVERYTHING and time, none the less, tends to run out on us. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with the scary thought that you will never make to the end of the year, here are some ideas which may help you steer yourself towards the last day without too much distress.
Firstly, think about what you are most proud of having accomplished this year – an inquiry, a student who made great gains in an area of his or her learning, successful parent relationships, a positive and inspiring professional relationship, a problem you solved, something valuable you learned that will influence your teaching in the future, or simply having survived a challenging year.
In kindergarten, the students have grown a lot and achieved so much in the short time they have been at school. Kindergarten is a major growth period in a child’s life – no doubt about it. While the math and literacy components are important and provide a lot of the structure and framework for our days, weeks, months of learning, it is the social and emotional learning that carries the greatest amount of significance for the future learning of a child. Taking stock of the year, I’d have to say that this is the area where my partner and I have spent a great deal of effort trying to provide access to enriching experiences and building positive relationship skills, and where we are the most pleased with the progress we have seen in our students.
Next, with the days counting down, although report cards need to be written, and classrooms need to be organized or cleared out, it is also important to look at what you may want to build on or change in your teaching practice for the following year. This is much more effective to do while you are still in the midst of teaching, rather than when you are on summer holidays and you think you will take the time but somehow never do. Here is a great article written by Caitlin Tucker entitled, Save Your Sanity with a Things To Revamp Next Year List in which she provides a ready-made chart you can fill in as you take stock of your year. You can use her categories or add your own. Anything you ‘revamp’ may also provide points you could address in your Annual Learning Plan at the beginning of the next school year, or they may simply be things that will help you feel a little more on top of your game when you get back into the classroom at the end of the summer.
Finally, as unpleasant the comparison may be, this is the time of the year that most resembles exam period at university. There will be some long hours at the computer and maybe some cramming on top of full days at work. However, just as we managed to get through our exams, so too will we eventually arrive at our summer holidays. In the meantime, I remind myself to breathe deeply and make some sense of the workload by putting things into perspective, with a healthy balance of time to recharge, and I know I will make it through as I always do.