May Survival Guide for Teachers

For teachers, May is the month of madness. Reviews, exams, grades, and a million other obligations pull at you. On top of all of these event variables, your students have spring fever. Every year without fail this flower of discontent blooms in late April and early May. The students are distracted, playful, and done. Yes, excuse my grammar, but they are done, baked, finished. Over it all.

As the captain of this porous ship, you have to be the one who stays sane. It may be just a bit easier than you think. Try these five simple hints for happiness in order to survive the end of the year shenanigans.

  1. Do not Cram in that Last Chapter-Think quality not quantity. Step back and evaluate your reasons for cramming in work. And be realistic, when has the word cram ever been associated with positive connotations? What will your students really glean from you teaching the Vietnam War in three days? Nothing. Absolutely. Nothing. The world will not come crumbling down upon you if you do not finish all the units you wanted to finish.
  1. Stop Taking Yourself so Seriously-You teach children who are prone to being playful, unique, and creative. So stop trying to sap those qualities out of them because you aren’t handling the May Madness as well as you could be. Instead of punishing an entire group because one child made a fart noise, consider a wrap up project that is actually fun and educational. Do a takeoff on John Green’s Crash Course and have the kids videotape a 30 second spot on their favorite topic of the year or create actual medicine bags for the short story “The Medicine Bag.” Stop being so serious and find some joy in your job; everyone involved will benefit.
  1. Go Outside-This time of year is perfect for a brief walk for students of all ages. You can go for a five-minute walk, come back recharged, and then get back to work. A week of walks can literally change your entire frame of mind.
  1. Round Up Recap-When the kids control the learning process, the results are always the best. Do a Round Up Review. You throw the first question out; such as tell me one thing about FDR, and the kids bounce around the room with details. At answer number five, get ready for the change up-a new question. There can be no longer than a five second wait for any answer. Some teachers use a beanbag to toss from child-to-child as the answers flow. This can go on for the entire hour with the students controlling the entire process. This is another wonderful example of be quiet and teach.
  1. Let Go of One Job or Commitment-Teachers tend to be overachievers. It runs through our blood. But if you do not volunteer for the end of the year dance committee, know this, someone else will do it. Yes, you are replaceable. Even if you are climbing the ladder, no one will be impressed with your struggle to juggle too many extra duties. Your work becomes shoddy and you become frayed. Make a list of every obligation you have from now until the end of the year, and then eliminate one of them. Be realistic in which one you excise; it probably should not be your fifth hour class. Also, do not take on any new tasks to fill in the one you just gave up. And do not even think about feeling guilty for not signing up for the class reunion committee.

The odds are against you in May. But your well being, mentally, physically, and emotionally, is important. Your family needs for you not to snarl at them, and you need to rediscover why you decided to teach in the first place. Look to these five easy to follow suggestions to help you on your journey to peace, love, and knowledge in the month of May.

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