Unless you’re a teacher, you have no idea what the end of the year truly involves.
Here is just a small sample of things that must be done in the final weeks (think 3 or less) on top of teaching:
- input final grades
- write report card comments
- turn in report cards, adjust according to feedback
- file report cards, IEPs, attendance, end of the year checklist, final exams, grade promotion, and any other important paperwork–and yes, file by hand
- end of the year awards: decide, make, send out letters, attend
- end of the year celebrations: promotions, festivities, graduations all require planning & clean-up
- take down classroom (days’ worth of time)
- clean entire classroom (scrub desks, wipe down boards and shelves, empty out drawers, remove all food from every corner of the room)
- take home any personal items (the extra pair of shoes, your water bottle, the candy drawer–all that cannot stay over the summer)
- return school property: books, curriculum, posters, manuals
- return emergency items: first aid kits, emergency plans, emergency signs, etc.
- end of the year trainings (WHY?!)
- meetings and trainings for the next school year (Why? I’m not going to remember in 8 weeks what was discussed, or who I met!)
Optional, though often obligatory, or added joyful obligations:
- signing everyone’s yearbook
- creating an end of the year gift for students and families
- attending added events–the ones not affiliated with your current assignment, classroom, or school (ex. former students’ graduations and promotion ceremonies)
- end of the year celebrations with co-workers/other teachers
The end of the year is filled with a number of added layers of responsibility. It’s stressful, but on that last day . . . bliss.
You’re cleaning up your classroom. You’re taking down bulletin boards. You’re taking down anchor charts. You’re removing decorations. You’re packing away books. Right now, you have the momentum, time, and energy to purge.
You do not need everything in your classroom. Some of the things you own are destroyed, and cannot be repaired. Some of things you own will not suit your next assignment. Some of the things you own are already outdated. Some of the things, well, you just didn’t use and don’t see yourself using in the future.
Take a step back. Look carefully at what is in front of you. What do you really need?
Consider the following:
- Making a box for new teachers next year.
- Giving things to other teachers in your building.
- Giving things to students.
- Donating to a local library or summer program.
- Throwing things away.
It is better to give things away than let them collect dust. If you haven’t used it in a couple of years, give it to someone that can use it.
It is better to give things away than throw them in the trash. Kids want those anchor charts they made with you. Those incomplete marker sets can mean the world to your students. It’s okay to give your students some things to take home.
It is better to make space in your room for new things than to find yourself cluttered, taking things home, or opening a storage unit.
Right now, as you wrap up the year, look closely and carefully, and purge.
Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:
- teachers are more excited for the end of the year than you can ever imagine
- schools have a lot of trash, between cabinets, classrooms, desks, and lockers the amount of trash is startling
- the end of the year is crazier than the beginning of the year
- schools have an obscene amount of paperwork
- schools have a ton of parties and celebrations–in and out of the classroom
This is the time in the school year where I am most reminded, most excited, most content about teaching.
I teach for right now, this moment, when I can sit back and look at my students and marvel at their progress.
This is the time of year when I am most reminded of the purpose, beauty, and benefits of teaching. My students each year were different people at the end of the year, my class was completely different from the first day of school. My students were more mature, more independent, and more lively at the end of the year. I would look at their work I had saved during the first couple of weeks and compare it to now, the end of the year, and feel accomplished and proud–not just of them, but of myself. We had come a long way, we had achieved so much.
Teaching is hard. It is exhausting. It can be trying. At the end of the year, during those final weeks, I am reminded that I teach in order to grow and help others grow. That duty, and that service, is challenging and rewarding; so, I keep teaching, I keep choosing this amazing profession.
Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6-10. It’s just one week, but in reality the whole month of May is a great time to snag some deals as an educator.
May is hectic. It’s the end of the race and the race was long. In between grading those final papers, finishing report cards, filling out all other forms of paperwork, cleaning and packing your classroom, I say: treat yourself!
Teacher Appreciation is only one week, and National Teacher Appreciation Day (May 7) is just a day, but that love and appreciation offered and demonstrated actually extends through the whole month of May.
Availability is not guaranteed everywhere but take a look at these deals — find something each week to help you finish strong, or simply pamper yourself. Go to your local district website too, they often post regional and local deals.
So, my added May advice: find a teacher appreciation deal, and treat yourself.