Wednesday, May 14, 2014

End of Year Burnout: How to Finish the Marathon in Stride

Finish the year with a smile on your face!
Come to our Lesley New Teacher Community May 31st Celebration Brunch honoring each of you. Hear some great tips from a panel of wonderful teachers on Closing Up the School

Yes, you can finish this marathon in stride and make some
wonderful end of the year memories for your class, too. 

 Let us know if you need more information or
RSVP to 

Our BRUNCH will be at University Hall on the Porter Square Campus from 10:30-1:30. 

To get you in the mood: From Edutopia

End of Year Burnout: How to Finish the Marathon in Stride

Image credit: Thinkstock
The end of the school year can feel like the final few miles of a
marathon. Not only does your body not want to go on, your mind wants to
be elsewhere. It's not helped by the fact that the dreaded tests are
over. Feeling burned out is quite common. In one of my previous blog
posts, I drew upon the work of expert Cary Cherniss, whose book, Beyond Burnout, gives great guidance about factors most likely to lead to teacher burnout and some ways to detect and prevent it.

But the end of the year is different. Detection is not the issue.
Neither is prevention. You are at mile 23 and your lungs are bursting,
your legs are cramping, your mind is in a jumble, and you just want say,
"Beam me up, Scotty."

Yet, just as the marathoners make it to the finish line, so can you. Here are five ideas that work:

Idea #1: Reconnect your kids and with your kids. Not your "students," your kids.
Whether 7 or 17, they are kids at heart and this is your chance to
reconnect with them as people. Talk with them about their interests.
Ask about what books they have read, videos they have seen, sports they
are following, teams they like, foods they most enjoy, favorite things
to do during the weekend, museums or parks they have visited. To make
this more comfortable, you might want to have them start out some of
these conversations in small groups, or in round robins, or in
speed-dating formats, to keep things lively and to help them better
connect to each other. You could also have them write or draw about

Idea #2: Share your interests. Talk to them about things
that interest you. Not part of the syllabus? Make it so. "Speaking of
geometry, we have been trying to find a new table for our kitchen, and
we have not been able to figure out the right shape -- rectangle,
circle, oval, square, pentagon -- I bet you hadn't thought about the
geometry of a kitchen or dining room! You could announce something like,
"Today, as part of our English lesson, I wanted to talk with you about
London, which is in England, and therefore part of the English
curriculum. It's my favorite city in the world. What are some things
you might go to see in London?" Or, "Before we talk about our science
topic today, I have a question for you: Do any of you have pets at home?
We have been having some trouble with our dog and I can use some
advice." Even if they don't care about the subject matter you are
talking about (not exactly a new event during a school day), they care
about you and will enjoy that you are sharing with them in a personal

Idea #3: Talk about the summer. In some of my work in
schools this year, I have been surprised about how many students want to
talk about the summer. There seem to be three groups: kids who just
want to think about the summer the way marathon runners think about the
refreshment tent beyond the finish line, kids who have specific things
they are looking forward to, and kids who dread the summer because they
have to spend time at home, or work at things they don't want to do.
Either way, giving your students a chance to talk about the summer, as a
class or in small groups, will help them, and help you. One approach
is to ask students to raise their hands if they are really looking
forward to the summer, sort of or not really, or really not looking
forward to it. Then, you can put kids in those three groups for a
preliminary conversation to share their particulars. You can visit each
group, and then have an overall class sharing. You can also talk about
your feelings about the summer, as you think appropriate.

Idea #4: Engage and encourage their aspirations and dreams.
"Ok, today we are not taking out any books or papers or anything. I
want you to take out your imaginations and your hopes and dreams about
the future. Put them on the desk and look them over. What do you hope
for in the future? What do you want for yourself, and your family?
Your education and your career? Let's talk about it." From here, you
can guide small groups or a class discussion, individual writing or
mindful contemplation, etc. There is a lot of research showing that, in
terms of learning, the aspirations of students matter. You will find
it valuable to learn what they think about their future and you can
devote more productive classroom time to helping your students more
realistically plan for their futures, expand their aspirations, and
understand the importance of turning their dreams into reality, than by
any bits of lesson content you will cover in those last few classes.
And you will find yourself re-engaged in why you went into education --
to make students' lives better and to help them make a positive mark on
the world.

Idea #5: Have some fun. Check out my recent blog post on
humor in the classroom and, most importantly, the fantastic ideas and
comments added by the Edutopia community. They provide testimony that
the best antidote to burnout is humor and fun.

Perhaps unlike a marathon, we don't have the option to quit before
the finish line. And we can't make the terrain any easier. But we can
spend the time in ways that will actually lighten our stride and allow
us to cover more ground -- in this case, time -- without it feeling
quite so burdensome. And you might even get a "runner's high" on
occasion. What are ways you beat burnout? Please share in the comments
section below.

End of Year Burnout: How to Finish the Marathon in Stride | Edutopia

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