Three Steps to Surviving the Rest of the School Year

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Three Steps to Surviving the Rest of the School Year

The last several months of the school year can be particularly challenging, for you and your students!

At this point, you’ve put in so much work, taught your classroom routines, consistently followed through on your expectations… and you may be running low on energy and creativity. 

Today I’m sharing my top 3 steps for surviving the rest of the school year because we all need a little encouragement and support this time of year. You’re not alone! 

Why is the second half of the second semester so challenging?

By the end of February, most teachers find themselves feeling a little stuck. February is a tough month – you’re still weeks away from spring break, there’s still a significant amount of learning time left, and your students may be feeling a little restless. 

It’s really important to stay strong at this point because so much important learning and growth happens between now and the end of the year. 

Your students understand their expectations and classroom routines pretty well at this point. And if you’ve put in the work to build a positive classroom culture – you and your students enjoy being together most days! 

This is the best time to dig into deeper, more collaborative learning to see what your students are truly capable of. It’s also the perfect time to revisit any challenging material that wasn’t truly mastered earlier in the year – your students may be better positioned to fill in those gaps now.

But to take advantage of this ideal learning window, you have to feel equipped to step into this challenging period of the school year. 

So let’s get to the survival steps that will get you there!

Step One: Reflect and Adjust

You can’t improve your classroom without first understanding what is working… and what is not.

Before making any plans for the second half of the second semester, you’ll want to take some intentional time to reflect on the previous months. I suggest actually writing down your thoughts, ideas, and answers to the questions I share so you can keep track of everything in your mind. It’s also helpful to look back over when you move to making adjustments. 

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What topics, objectives, or skills are my students excelling in as a class?
  • What topics, objectives, or skills are my students struggling with as a class?
  • How do I feel when I enter my classroom before a new day starts?
  • Where are we thriving as a classroom community?
  • Where does it feel like we’re struggling as a classroom community?
  • Are there specific things I wish we could have more of throughout the day?
  • Are there specific things I wish we could have less of throughout the day?
  • What am I most proud of so far this year?
  • What is the improvement I would most like to make before the end of this school year?
  • When I look back at this year, what do I want to be true?

Based on your reflections, you can identify what needs to be adjusted. This is probably not the best time to overhaul or completely change anything, but it’s a perfect opportunity to make small tweaks and adjustments to improve in key areas.

You can also get your class in on the reflect and adjust process!

Invite everyone to the carpet and talk about how as a classroom, you’re at an important point in the school year. Focus on how this is a great opportunity for you to come together and make even more progress and reach your goals! If there are specific things you’ve worked on as a class so far, highlight the effort they have put in, the progress you have made, and the goals they have reached. 

Ask your students to reflect with you and then share any ideas (or we like to call them intentions in our classroom) they have for adjustments or improvements that could be made. As a class, choose one or two to focus on and write them on an anchor chart or somewhere they can be seen so you can refer back to your plans throughout the rest of the year. 

It’s never too late to improve or change – so use this time as a mini reset and see how it makes the end of this semester the best it can possibly be!

Step Two: Stay Positive

Let’s be honest – this can be a hard time of year to stay positive. 

Depending on where you live, you may be dealing with cold weather for a while longer. The shine of the new year has worn off but the promise of summer break is still too far away to feel possible. It’s tough!

Intentionally maintaining a positive mindset will help you survive this period, and maybe even thrive.

A positive mindset shouldn’t feel like telling yourself, “Just be positive!” That’s not going to help. You need concrete strategies and tools for building and maintaining a positive mindset.

One of the best things you can do is to practice gratitude. Gratitude breeds positivity and helps you feel more calm, centered, and purposeful.

Try starting and ending each day in your classroom by writing down a few things you are grateful for. You can make this an independent practice as a teacher and incorporate it as a daily or weekly practice with your students (click here to watch an in-action video of our gratitude discussion in our heart-centered classroom).

Have students share what they are grateful for in your classroom or have them journal about what they are grateful for in their own lives. It’s a powerful habit that will benefit all of you!

Another way to build your positive mindset is to focus on growth instead of success. This involves celebrating all the effort and progress you’ve made… not just celebrating when you’ve reached a goal or succeeded.

Staying connected with positive role models and peers can also help you see things in a more positive light. If you find yourself in a group of teachers who are constantly complaining, venting, and being negative it can be hard to find the positive! 

As you’re working on your positive mindset, it’s important to remember that being positive doesn’t mean you’re always sunshine and roses. Tough days will happen. You’ll have disappointing moments and frustrating encounters. That’s okay – it’s all part of this wonderfully complicated job of teaching. 

The key is to approach your challenges with a strong, positive mindset, confident you’ll get the best outcome. And even if you don’t get the results you want, use the experience as a chance to learn and grow, not quit. That’s the power of a positive mindset!

Step Three: Collaborate

It’s easy to get discouraged when you feel alone, which is why this is the perfect time of year to collaborate.

Talk with your grade-level teachers and see if there’s a group activity or learning experience you can create together. Working with your team of teachers is a great way to infuse new ideas, get creative, and make the work less of a lift for just you.

You can also collaborate with your leadership team to see how they can support your classroom and help you thrive every step of the way to the finish line. Lobby for the special supplies or field trip you think would benefit your classroom. Ask for the resources you need for a special project. Don’t be afraid to put your classroom needs out there. You never know what’s possible until you ask!

Is there a way you can pull student families into the end-of-the-year stretch? Sometimes shaking things up and having a family member come in to read with your class or lead an activity can be just what your students need to re-engage and focus. 

And of course, you’ll want to collaborate with your students. Because you all know one another so well at this point, it’s the perfect time to let them do more things like group work, group projects, and other collaborative learning. You can trust your students to self-govern themselves a bit better, so group activities that were a struggle in September may be a breeze now. 

Need help following these steps?

Without a positive classroom culture, it’s going to feel like a struggle to survive the rest of the school year. If you’re ready to improve the culture in your classroom, this is the perfect time to implement simple, proven strategies to get your students feeling happy and excited about coming to school now through the end of the year. 

Click here to download your FREE 10 Ways to Build a Positive Classroom Community Guide>>

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