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Finish Strong: Strategies for Making the Final Weeks Count

As teachers, we often feel so overwhelmed in the final weeks of school that our only goal is to simply make it to summer break.

But if we only survive, we’re missing huge opportunities the final weeks bring. The good news is that we don't need a lot of time to make the last weeks count - just a bit of intentionality.

Join us we explore how we can make a final impact on our students, pack up in an organized way, reflect helpfully, and prepare ourselves for a refreshing summer break.

Finish Strong: Strategies for Making the Final Weeks Count
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#1: How to Finish Strong, Even if You Don't Think You Can

Congratulations on making it this far into the school year! I want to encourage you to finish strong and make these weeks count.

When I was 16 weeks pregnant, I ran a marathon. I didn’t discover I was pregnant until halfway through my training, but I got medical approval to run anyway. I had this idea that I was going to cross the finish line with my arms held high in victory! I wish I had a video of me crossing because the reality is I barely made it across that finish line and I collapsed in the grass at the end. My husband said I looked miserable. I was glad I accomplished it, but I barely made it.

Maybe you feel that way. Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t know if I can cross that finish line. I feel like I’m barely surviving.” Do not feel guilty if you’re just putting one foot in front of the other, but I do want to give you some things to think about these last few weeks of school.

Why do these last weeks of school matter?

1. These last weeks are an opportunity to make a final impact on your students. You’ve spent so much time with them, you know them better now than ever. You have built a relationship. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to guide them, to leave them with those last few words of wisdom, to inspire them. They’ll listen better now because of your shared history.

2. This is a great time to reflect. What has gone right this year? What has gone wrong? Make some written notes about it, so you will remember them next year and can make any changes (and remember what you want to do again!).

3. Make a plan for how to use your summer wisely. Sometimes the summer flies by and you don’t know where the time went! You had things you wanted to accomplish, but didn’t get to them. Now is the time to really consider what you want to do before next school year, but also be sure to plan some time for rest and relaxation as well!

If this sounds overwhelming to you and you’re one of those teachers we talked to above who feels like they’re barely surviving, you’ll want to listen to the full episode above where Linda provides encouragement and truth from God’s Word to help you keep going!

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Teacher Appreciation Bundle

Jesus, Strong and Kind Song

Finish Strong: Strategies for Making the Final Weeks Count
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#2: Making a Final Impact on our Students

Here it comes, ready or not!

The end of the year is fast approaching and you have limited time left with your students, so let’s make the most of it!

Be intentional with how you spend your time, both academically and relationally.

Academics: Take a moment and see where you are in your scope and sequence.

- If you’re behind schedule, don’t just keep doing the next lesson because it’s the next lesson. At this point, you know you’re going to run out of time to teach everything, so intentionally think through what the most important lessons are and prioritize them.

- If you’ve done an amazing job staying on track, or even getting ahead of schedule, don’t let your students think you’ll be wrapping up early for the year. They’ll check out and you’ll have a mess on your hands! Have a plan with engaging academic activities so they’ll be excited to learn up till the end.

Relationships: Pray and keep your eyes open for how God wants to bless His children through you.

- God isn’t done using you in the lives of your students! In your last few weeks with them, intentionally speak love, truth, and encouragement into their lives. Ask God to help you shine His light to the students He’s given you this year.

Want some specific ideas for projects (both academic and relational) that you can do during the last few weeks of school? Listen to the full podcast now!

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

End-of-the-Year Project Ideas

PRAY AND PLAN

As you reflect on how planning out your schedule went this year, start thinking about next school year! We can help you organize your spiritual, home, and classroom life with our planner created for Christian educators. Pray & Plan integrates practical planning with your spiritual walk to help you teach each day in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

Check it out now here

Finish Strong: Strategies for Making the Final Weeks Count
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#3: How to Close Down Your Classroom Like a Pro

When you think of closing out your classroom at the end of the year, do you immediately have visions of total chaos? Loose papers flying everywhere, trash cans overflowing with ripped-up bulletin board displays, stubby pencils on the floor, and students attempting to shove the entire contents of their desks into their backpacks to take home… what a mess!

The good news is that cleaning up your classroom doesn’t have to be chaotic if you take the right approach! Here's some advice to help you with these tasks:

1. DON’T pack up the visible parts of your classroom too early! If you start taking down your bulletin boards a month before school ends, it will signal to your students that the year is over and they will start to lose focus.

2. DO start cleaning out your desk, cabinets, and computer files ahead of time so that you can discreetly get some things accomplished without derailing your class.

3. DO enlist your students to help. On one of the last days of school, try giving your class some engaging independent work and having pairs of students work on cleaning tasks one at a time to avoid chaos. (Thanks to Angela Watson for this great advice!)

You don’t need to be overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. Just try your best to do what you can and every little bit will help you get off on the right foot next year. Here's some advice from Kelly Jackson from The Simply Organized Teacher on organizing as you pack up:

1. DO your cleaning and organizing a little at a time, as you have time. Try tackling one drawer at lunch time and another the next day.

2. DO find some bins that you can label “donate” or “trash” etc. so that you have a spot for everything you need to organize or get rid of. (You may find it motivating to give yourself a goal of how many items you will get rid of!)

3. DON'T forget about the unseen parts of your classroom, like cabinets and drawers. Neglecting those spots will cause you to come back in the fall to an unexpected mess!

4. DO create zones in your classroom and put “like” things together in the same zone. For example, put all of your teaching reading materials in one location rather than all over the classroom.

If you’re interested in hearing more about closing out and organizing your classroom you can listen to the entire podcast episode
here.

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Finish Strong: Strategies for Making the Final Weeks Count
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#4: A Simple Key to Future Success

Do you want to start your summer break with clarity and the freedom to enjoy the sand and sunshine from day one? Then, schedule a small block of time to reflect on this school year.


Reflection will allow you to clear your mind from all the details you would otherwise try to hold onto until next fall.


Reflection can be simple, inspiring, and be the catalyst you need to improve your classroom.

Use these 4 easy steps.


STEP ONE: Let's start by celebrating the things that went really well this year!
-Did you connect well with certain students?
-Did you master the art of a clean desk?
-Were you on time more than 90% of the days?
Write these things down. Thank God for these wins! And use them to help plan for next year.

STEP TWO: Now, let's make some notes of things you want to change.
-Is there a new procedure you want to implement?                                                                         -Was there a daily struggle in your classroom?                                                                                   -What inspiring ideas do you have?

STEP THREE: Identify the root cause of last year's biggest pain point. Try asking:       -Why this was an issue?                                                                                                                                Ask why a couple times if needed. Some themes that come to mind are: organization, classroom management, time management, personal attitude, anxiety, or student behavior.

STEP FOUR: Make a plan for what needs to change.
Remember: This is about reflecting and not solving your issues right away. So, while step four can involve naming the solution, it will then involve planning time in the future where you implement the solution. On the other hand, this step could also mean planning time to brainstorm solutions themselves. This is not about fixing everything now! Instead, it's about assuring there is time on your calendar designated to handling the problem.

These four steps will not solve all your problems for next year within the 20-30 minute reflection time.


But, following this process allows you peace of mind as you begin your summer.
You have identified your issues, and made time and space to deal with them in the future.


Plus, you have recorded several things that worked well to keep you motivated AND to draw inspiration from as you brainstorm solutions for next year.


Listen to today's podcast to get more clarity on these reflection steps and their benefits. Then, when you are done, clear your mind for summer vacation by using this in-depth reflection template. Click here to get yours.

JOIN YOUR SMOOTH-RUNNING CLASS

Are you tired of all the distractions? If you've ever stood in front of your class desperately trying to regain your students' attention while they talk, run around, get in fights, and generally ignore you, you know it is not fun.

But it doesn't have to be this way! We'll help you design a plan that works so you can create a smooth-running class where students respect each other - and you! 

Join Your Smooth-Running Class this summer!

Classroom management plan course from Teach 4 the Heart

Finish Strong: Strategies for Making the Final Weeks Count
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#5: 4 Steps to Your Ideal Summer Break

This summer, let's make sure you get the things done that you need to, but also have plenty of time to rest and have fun!


Let's start with planning an ideal week. We suggest theming your days so they are similar each week.


Here's an example:

-Monday: AM - Household chores | PM - Library and errands
-Tuesday: Beach or Park
-Wednesday: AM - Lunch with a friend | PM - PD course during kid's youth group time
-Thursday: AM - Laundry, reading & rest | PM - Family night
-Friday: AM- Groceries | PM - Project day

This schedule is very loose but key priorities are addressed.
(In the podcast we refer to them as level 1 priorities).
-Family time
-Reading books over the summer
-Completing a professional development course

There are some level 2 priorities set as well:
-Decluttering the closet, kitchen, and storage area in the basement
-Seeing friends on a weekly basis
-Getting outside on a regular basis

Other priorities such as household chores & rest are addressed as well.

By sharing the schedule with family and friends, these goals are more likely to be a reality!

Let's review how you can formulate your ideal week schedule, too!

STEP 1: CONSIDER
What's important to you this summer? What do you REALLY want to experience, do, or feel? Make sure to consider personal, relationship, professional, health, spiritual & other kinds of areas.

STEP 2: PRIORITIZE IT
Of the things you deemed important, you will need to rank them. Remember, if everything is important, then nothing is.

STEP 3: SCHEDULE IT
Schedule time for these things NOW. Even if you're not exactly sure what you'll do, get it on the calendar. Get your most important things on the calendar first!

STEP 4: SHARE IT
Be sure to share your goals to cement them in your own mind & provide a bit of accountability.

Listen to this podcast for more information on the 4 steps, so you can create your own ideal week schedule & plan a wonderful summer vacation for you and your family. Enjoy your summer!

Finish Strong: Strategies for Making the Final Weeks Count
WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THIS SERIES:

JOIN YOUR SMOOTH-RUNNING CLASS

Are you tired of all the distractions? If you've ever stood in front of your class desperately trying to regain your students' attention while they talk, run around, get in fights, and generally ignore you, you know it is not fun.

But it doesn't have to be this way! We'll help you design a plan that works so you can create a smooth-running class where students respect each other - and you! 

Join Your Smooth-Running Class this summer!

Classroom management plan course from Teach 4 the Heart

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