Ending the Year with Sanity

As the school year comes to an end, our work and our students tend to go a little nuts. We’re trying to wrap up the year, grade assignments and pull together end of year progress reports, keep students engaged and still learning, and keep ourselves sane as we focus on the light at the end of the tunnel (summer!).

In this tumultuous time, it’s important that educators take some time to focus in on the big things and not go crazy like everything else. As we prepare for the end of this school year (which has flown by way too quickly), let’s check out some tips for ending strong:

  • Autopilot is not an option. Some of us get caught in just treading water so we can get through until the summer. A better option, offered by Linda Kardamis at teach4theheart.com, is to be intentional and set a couple of goals to achieve by the end of the year. By doing this, we can put in our effort to continue to impact our students and do our work to the best of our ability.
  • Keep communication going with families until the end of the year. Kardamis also discusses how important it is to continue showing how much we care for our students by ending the year off with strong communication with parents with advice on what students can work on over the summer and things they’ve achieved during the year.
  • Find time to celebrate all of your students. This could be through writing notes to them individually, as ASCD’s Mike Anderson recommends or chatting with them informally. Another suggestion by Anderson is to have students recognize each other for their accomplishments; sometimes, this means more to them than anything we could ever do.
  • Anderson also discusses reflection: individually for students and as a class. This helps us think through all the awesome things we’ve done as a class and helps students understand their own growth through the year.
  • Based on the above idea, I also suggest individual teacher reflection. It’s so important at this time of year to think through what we have accomplished with our students through the year, the struggles we’ve faced and overcome and ideas we have for the next school year.
  • To keep students engaged, Edutopia’s Larry Ferlazzo suggests cooperative learning projects. In my class, I am having students create a board game incorporating the content we’ve learned throughout the year. Last year, my students got really creative and I was amazed at their games. I hope they get the same chance to work together and go crazy on their game (rather than in their behavior).
  • Lastly, as an uber-organized individual, I recommend getting things ready to go for next year (similar to what Kardamis mentions). You may not know exactly what you’re teaching or how you’re planning for it, but spring cleaning happens in spring for a reason; this a great time, especially as teachers, for us to clean out the year and prepare ourselves for another, wonderful year of madness.

I’m sure there are many other things that educators do to fulfill their responsibilities and take care of themselves and students at this time of year, but I believe this list offers a good way to start thinking about closing down.

Do you have any other suggestions that help you at this time of year?



The Power of Community

As the Ismaili Muslim community in the United States prepares for a special event, the national community has mobilized rapidly and strongly. In the past 48 hours alone, various teams handling different aspects of the event have pulled together, started meetings and webinars and sessions for members of the community. They have put together schedules and timings and roles and responsibilities. It is absolutely amazing to see the huge amounts of effort that everyone is putting in to make this event a complete success.

Before things get crazier than they already are, I have been taking time to reflect on the upcoming occasion. Seeing the way in which my community comes together to work with each other and the excitement with which members of the community give up sleep, time and energy to help one another is inspiring, to say the least. It also makes me think about the power that a community like this can have on its youth. A 7 year old boy approached me after a session I conducted last night to talk about how he was going to volunteer for this upcoming event and was excited to be a part of it. I can only imagine how many other youth are caught up in the excitement and the opportunities they have to participate.

Continue reading “The Power of Community”