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4 Tips for Teachers to Avoid the End-of-the-Year Coast

Thursday, May 4, 2017 -- Scott Sterling

Once testing is complete, both teachers and students breathe a sigh of relief. For some teachers, that sigh lasts all the way until June. After all the work you’ve put in over the course of the school year, it’s only natural to be ready for a break. But, it’s equally important to avoid the temptation of coasting through to the end of the school year. Here are four tips for you to keep yourself engaged through the homestretch, have fun, and lessen the stress you and your students face.

1. Do some field testing

Educators tend to go to a lot of conferences and read a lot of books over the summer months that offer great ideas, strategies, and frameworks to try in the classroom. The problem is that you may not actually want to stray too far from your usual routine when back-to-school time rolls around; combating summer brain drain in the most effective ways you know is simply too important.

The post-assessment period in the spring is actually a much better time to field test new approaches. That’s not to say that the content for the rest of the year isn’t important, but there’s far less sense of urgency to make sure that students are grasping concepts than in, say, November.

2. Put your reflection in overdrive

Of course, it’s important to reflect upon your practice as an educator throughout the year, but at this point, you have the benefit of nearly a full year’s worth of data, artifacts, and experience available. Compare everything you have from the beginning of the year to now, including your own lesson plans and students’ assignments. Take new video of yourself teaching and swap it with your colleagues for final rounds of feedback. You can even arrange to observe and be observed. After all, your colleagues are more likely to volunteer a planning period now than in the crush of the school year.

3. Create something new

Putting extra focus on reflection will almost inevitably lead you to find something ripe for improvement, either with your own teaching practice, the curriculum, or your classroom processes. As mentioned before, now is the time for experimentation. Get creative, and don’t be afraid to try your own homegrown solutions. This is especially true for any changes that may require approval from other parties. They are more likely to bless an outside-of-the-box idea at this lower-stress time of year, especially if you lay out your methodology and plans for thorough reflection.

4. Give students more autonomy

Sometimes, the standards and content are too important or too rigidly paced to allow your students much choice in what they study and how. That’s unfortunate because autonomy is a great way of generating engagement. The end of the school year may be just the time for you to try more self-directed study, open-ended inquiry, and differentiation strategies that would otherwise put your pacing guide at risk.

The tail end of the school year can feel long! Looking for more tips to help you make it through? Check out this blog post on avoiding end-of-the-year negativity!