June is probably the most intense time of year for educators. The end of year celebrations, concerts, retirement parties, student placements, room changes, moving up ceremonies, report cards…the list goes on and on. It can often feel like a rollercoaster ride, one that you are just trying to hang on to.
Ask any teacher or administrator how it is going and you may get a response like, “you know, it’s June” accompanied with a gesture similar to hanging on to a sled barreling down a hill; more animated teachers will throw in some head and shoulder shakes to illustrate just how bumpy the ride can be.
It is not that things are bad. In fact, June has some of the best days of the year; it’s just that it is a lot more time spent with your work family than your home family. To educators, June is like tax season is for accountants. Then the last day of school hits and you remember how much you love and will miss everyone, even that teacher who steals your Diet Coke out of the faculty fridge. It is a whirlwind and then it is abruptly over; it’s the storm before the calm.
If you are a teacher– two glorious months of family time, beach time, relaxation, travel, or whatever it is you want to do. If you are an administrator– a more relaxed pace and time to think, breathe, and plan. The problem is if you do not take the time to put closure on your year, reflect on your growth, analyze your errors, appreciate the people who helped you, the years can start to blend together and you will not get everything you can out of each and every year. These six tips are ways that you can close out your year and be ready to have an ever better one next year.
Think about all of the people who helped make your year better. Was it someone who taught you a new technique or tech tool? Was it a kind word when you were down? It could have just been a new friendship forged. Pick one person and let them know that they made a difference for you. Send them an email, give them a card, bring them a cup of coffee. It doesn’t matter how you recognize them; just do and do it before the year is over. I often catch myself putting off the heartfelt thank you, or the mushy card, and have found that most others do the same. I am not sure why; probably part embarrassment, part procrastination, but think about it: when was the last time you received a card, a compliment, and didn’t smile? Didn’t that positive affirmation make your day a little bit better? Why not do that for someone else this week?
Make A Pride List
Take a few minutes to write all of the accomplishments you are proud of this year. This isn’t about bragging because the list is just for you, but take the time to actually write or type everything you did this year that you are proud of. Was it connecting with a student, learning Spanish, or starting a new club? Maybe you mastered a new instructional technique, implemented flexible seating, started greeting your students at the door everyday, or brought a cup of coffee to a different adult in the school every Friday. It doesn’t matter what is on your list because once you start writing it down you will hopefully realize that you are a better educator today than you were in September, that the school was a better place to work because you worked there. If you find it is not the case, it is time to reevaluate yourself. Either commit to having a better year next year or choose a new field.
Create a Mistake List
This one is a little harder; no, actually a lot harder, but it is also an immense benefit for the educator who wants to get better each and every year. It is sometimes painful to relive our mistakes, but looking at mistakes and learning from them is how we grow as educators and as people. Did you lose your cool? Were you sarcastic with a student? Did you gossip too much? Did you rely on doing things the same way because “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”? We all make mistakes and we can not go back and fix them, but we certainly can learn from them and do better next time.
Be A Hero One More Time
Good teachers and principals are heroes to their students. They are like movie stars, rock stars, and NBA all-stars all wrapped up in one. It’s easy to forget just how important we can be in a child’s life, how they hang on our every word, and watch all of our actions. That is why educators need summer to recharge. We have an immense responsibility, a responsibility that comes with rewards that people in other fields may never experience. How many times does a lawyer walk through the mall and have a child point at them, mouth gaping, so excited that can’t even get a word out?
My guess is never.
Those moments are saved for us and Lebron James.
I challenge you to be a hero one more time before the end of the year. Choose a student that you know needs a pick-me-up. Maybe they are struggling at home, struggling with fitting in, or just sad. Once you have determined who the child is, think about something that would put a huge smile on his/her face. Make it a grand gesture. The sneakers they were dreaming of, a poem about how special they are, a drawing that you make just for them, a call to a grandparent telling them how special their grandchild is. You know your students better than anyone; find out what you could do to be a hero one last time this year.
Pick One Summer Growth Goal
Summer is a time to recharge your batteries, spend time with family, take time for yourself. Just like students, your summer should be about playing, socializing, having fun, and not doing packets of work. Your entire summer shouldn’t be about your craft, but do commit to one area of growth this summer. It may be one professional book you will read, one conference you will attend, one technique you will learn about, or one APP you will explore. Two months seems like so much time, but, as you know, the older you get, the quicker time seems to fly by. If you pick one thing, and just one thing to prioritize for this summer, professional you is more likely to stick to it and absorb the learning, in turn making you a better educator.
Ramp Up Your Nice
For many of us this is the last week of school. No matter if you had a great year or a bad year, it is almost over. Let bygones be bygones, let your grievances go. Go out of your way to be positive. End your year on a positive note; nobody thinks they are a negative person, but some people just are. Don’t be that person, especially the last week of school. Let everyone’s last impression of you before the hiatus be a positive one. You may just find that it will kick start you into the best summer you have ever had.
Educators, you are heroes, you make a difference. Take the time to put a bow on your year so you can enjoy the lazy days and late late nights of summer.