For my U.S.-based teacher friends, the end of the school year is at hand. Here in Australia, we’re coming up to the end of the second term. In both cases, it is beyond busy. We’re trying to cram in last bits of teaching and learning, wrapping up assessments and grading. Every day seems to bring a new event or schedule disruption—field days and field trips and class presentations and testing. The end of the school year can test even top notch teachers.
Have your students checked out already? Have you?
The end of the term or end of the school year can feel like too much, and it’s important to keep taking care of yourself to pass with flying colors.
Top Notch Teachers Thrive with Self-Care
When life gets busy (or should I say busier), the first thing to go is usually self-care. We think “I have to turn in these grades.” “I must finish the end of year books for my students.” “I need to wrap up this project.” And to do that we cut out our morning walk or after school yoga or taking a bath before bed.
We forget to drink water or eat lunch. We get by. Just a few more weeks we promise ourselves.
That’s no way to thrive.
Sticking with our self-care can actually help us get through the end of the year gauntlet. When we take the time to care for ourselves we are actually happier and more productive.
But I don’t have time. I hear you.
I’m still working on sticking with self-care. Honestly, I cut back on it, but I try not to cut it out altogether. Here are 5 ways to continue to thrive at the end of the year.
1. Go back to basics: water, food, sleep
Fill up your water bottles to bring to school. Pack a healthy lunch the night before. If your partner or a kind friend asks if they can help, have them pick up fruit and veggies and other quick and healthy foods for breakfast and lunch. Go.To.Bed! (even if you aren’t done).
2. Stay inspired
Post reminders of why you love this crazy job—11 reasons to love teaching—in your classroom, your prep area at home, or the teacher’s room. Make a list of class accomplishments with your students. They may remember things that stick out to them that you had forgotten!
3. Let go of things
There are things you are required to do. And there are things you think you have to do, because you’ve done them before or because you pictured it a certain way in your head. Maybe you imagined having real costumes for the end of the year show or handing each student a special picture book on the last day of school. What if the students make their own costumes in a way they feel proud of even if it’s not quite what you had in mind? What if the picture books have fewer pictures—or don’t happen at all? What if you give them a fun game to play (that somebody else created)? It wouldn’t be the end of the world—and you would save some time and energy for something you need to do.
4. Keep moving
While it may feel like you never sit down, make yourself move enough to get your heart rate up. Exercise can really boost your mood and energy. Don’t have time for your usual walk? Take 15 minutes to get outside (the sunshine boosts our mood too) for a brisk stroll. Dance like crazy to shake off a bad day. Take stretch breaks to get up from your desk when you are spending hours on paperwork. Taking 5–15 minute breaks like this can make a huge difference.
5. Get support
Even if all the teachers around you seem as crazed as you are, you can give and get emotional support. Beyond that, you can pick up tips to make things easier next year, manage your time better, and streamline processes. Ask for suggestions and use online resources. And ask for the help you need with other parts of your life while things are extra busy at school.
It’s never going to be easy at the end of the year or the end of the term, but it doesn’t have to be dismal either. Keep your sense of humor—and keep taking care of yourself. I promise you will get through—and once you do, enjoy your break!
If you’re looking for a little extra support, the New Teacher Support Program offers just that. Start now to set yourself up for a great new year or new term! With a bounty of resources, tips and techniques, and a supportive community, you’ll go from getting through to thriving!