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I don’t know about you, but as soon as the weather gets warm and Spring Break is over with, I’m looking forward to the end of the school year. There is, however, still quite a bit of school left– so what do you do when both you and the students are ready for it to be over? Let’s talk about tips for teachers making it to the end of the school year.
These 5 tips have helped enormously, and frankly, I’m writing this blog post as much for me as for you.
Don’t count down
First off, stop with the countdowns! I know that I’ll get pushback on this one, but hear me out:
When you count down to the end of the year, you are focusing on that end date. When you do that, it makes it feel so much further away. It amplifies the time in the middle, and feels as though it takes forever.
On top of that, focusing on the end date makes it harder to be present in the moment– to enjoy what you’ve got now. Maybe you feel like you aren’t enjoying the now and you really do want to focus on making it to the end of the school year, but there must be something that you enjoy about teaching– even in April and May. And June. (If you’re still going in June, I am so sorry.)
Teachers do this funny thing where they continually look for the next chance to be off– myself included. But the problem is when you’re too focused on that, because then you’re not making the most of the now.
I heard a teacher saying how she was ready for the week to be over, and then she followed it up with, “I hate to wish my life away.”
If you’re going to countdown with your class as a celebration and do something each day, that’s fine. Or if you must count down, then count down to the end of the school year in a small, less noticeable place and don’t obsess over it.
Instead, do as Moana’s dad tells her, “You must find happiness right where you are.” Find things that will bring you joy each day, and focus on that.
I like to make a list of fun things to do BEFORE school lets out. Sometimes it’s things like playing a game with the kids and other days it’s things like getting coffee before school, but they insert a bit of joy into my life.
It’s much more fun than staring at the calendar waiting for break.
Add more movement
Now that we’ve got the mindset stuff done, let’s talk about practical things to help you when you’re making it to the end of the school year.
The first thing? Add more movement!
The kids are also ready for a break, so the best thing that you can do for your sanity and theirs is to allow them to move their bodies.
Turn simple multiple choice questions into 4 corners. Have them do stand up and sit down for true and false questions. Look for songs, videos, and games. Add brain breaks.
If you structure your day to wear them out, then you will be much more sane while making it to summer break.
Make lessons fun, but easy (Google Slides are your friend)
As the kids are getting more rowdy, you want your lessons to be fun.
But as you get more tired, you also want easy.
Make a list of things the kids like but that are easy for you to do– that’s your lesson plan while making it to the end of the school year.
One thing that helps me is Google Slides. Google Slides are a bit of work up front (unless you purchase them on TPT!), but if you have a lesson that’s ready to go and all you need to do is click through, it will help you enormously.
I recently experienced this during December– most of my classes were doing The Nutcracker Virtual Field Trip. They got to move and play instruments, and all that I had to do was press play.
And in December, that’s about all music teachers can handle.
- Matching games
- Group work (creating something is their favorite!)
- Group games (we love Kaboom!)
- Book based lessons
- Research activities
- Color by code or color by note
Your might include more things, but these are a few that I like to do. The more students can be actively working (alone or in groups) the better they will behave– and the more they will learn!
Talk instrument families or form
There are some standards that require a TON of prior work, prep work, deep concentration, etc. For me, those things are like rhythm or melody.
When it comes to other concepts, however, like instruments of the orchestra, learning about composers, form, etc, they don’t need as much prep work. I like to hit these standard with my kids in the spring, because:
- Usually easy to teach
- Include a lot of activities students can do independently
- Easy to move into the classroom (especially for days when there is testing)
I also find that there are many active ways to teach these things– like write the room activities, parachute or scarves for form, instruments of the orchestra 4 corners, etc. We can do a lot of games and videos.
And if I need to go to a classroom because of testing, or I have a sub because we have concerts and field trips (you know, pre-COVID), then I can easily leave a worksheet version of the activity as well.
Have a back up plan
As teachers, I think EVERYONE should have a back up plan all of the time. With grade levels that are especially challenging, I will think of (and sometimes write down) a back up plan as I write my plan A.
If you don’t need plan B, great. But in your head (or on a piece of paper!) have some ideas. Sometimes the kids come in and are bonkers or they take way longer than they should to finish something– this is the case in which you need a back up plan.
I have a whole blog post about back up plans (click here to read!), but a few of my favorites are GoNoodle videos, books that are related to the subject, games (especially games that are easy like Kaboom or these solfege digital games), a game you’ve done before, and play along videos (especially for the older kids).
Another easy accommodations is having kids stay in their seat instead of move around the room. You could also have them sit instead of stand. Both of those can make an activity much more calm.
What are your favorite hacks for making it to the end of the year? Remember, you don’t have to work a million hours or come up with lesson plans all on your own in order to be a good teacher– especially when you’re getting teacher tired.
You can always sign up for my newsletter to get music lessons delivered straight to you inbox. These emails come every week (that you can use the next day). Plus, you’ll get access to the free resource library!
If you are feeling teacher tired, you can also grab my book The Happier Teacher Life on Amazon. It’s a practical guide to living a less stressed life as a teacher. The book will help you implement long term solutions to your stress.