The End of the School Year Crunch
Thank you for sharing some options for worthwhile professional development! I know you were intentional in sharing your thoughts for new teachers, but I think any teacher in any year of their teaching would benefit from the opportunities mentioned in your post, What's the Best Professional Development for New Teachers?.
At the end of your post you touched on it being the end of the year and inquired how I am going to finish the year strong with my students. I honestly can't believe we are entering the month of May already! It seems as though the school year picks up pace around this time, before it winds down towards the end. Upcoming, I am entering an assessment window with my kids and we have open house in the heart of May. There have also been sporadic meetings that I get pulled for, half day trainings, IEPs, among other year round AND end of the year tasks. There is a lot to keep up with, and the last thing I want to do is forget to do any of it! So, I have two tips for our new teachers: Create a plan and organize your info with a workflow. You may chuckle as this seems like "no duh" information, but Lisa, these two things ARE KEY at this time of the year. Of course, these two tasks may be completed in a variety of ways, but I am sharing the strategies I use that work for me.
Create a Plan
Lesson planning is helpful and essential year round, but as you get close to the end of the year you know what content is left to teach and just about how much time you still have to "get it all in." With the light at the end of the tunnel, you figure out which projects the kids will actually get to and which lessons you might have to double up on; you prioritize what REALLY still needs to happen before the school year comes to a close. This is where your pacing guide comes in, or may even need to get updated. (If you don't have a pacing guide yet, it's still not too late to create one!)
A pacing guide will literally help you to "pace things out." Perhaps you want to jot down themes, units, standards, whatever topic it is that helps you to create a framework of what you have left to cover in the school year. During my spring break, I made a table of the weeks remaining in school. One column had the start date of the school week, and the other column had the theme and skills I wanted to cover in that week. There was a sense of relief in plugging in what was left of content and how "everything will get done." Prior to each week, or the Sunday before the school week, I pull resources that I have used previously, and tap into what I know about my students. I think on how I can accommodate and spice up previous lessons. Throughout the week I am flexible for any re-teaching or spontaneous teaching moments that come up. The bigger picture is that it is nice to have a plan to follow and it is excruciatingly important towards the end of the year.
Organize Your Info with a Workflow
Having a workflow is a MUST! For me, information comes in daily through email and the Bloomz app I use with parents. I respond to communication that requires my immediate attention, and either "star" or mark email as new for things that can wait, but I need to come back to. There are a TON of dates and meetings to remember. Google Calendar and Google Keep are what I live by! I plug things in to both apps as appropriate. It is probably apparent, but appointments and dates go in Google Calendar and checklists go into Google Keep. To me, Google Keep is the unsung hero of Google Apps. The app offers digital Post-Its. You can type out your to-do lists, save screenshots or images to the note, share the note with others, and so much more! I access Google Calendar and Google Keep on my phone AND on my computer. Google Keep is the home loading page on my browser. It is super helpful because my lists are there and I can glance them over. I also use Google Keep to save "handy files" that I use all year long. Most of those files are links of items in my Google drive.
Lisa, if you have any tips for the end of the year crunch, please share them our way!
Photo credit to author.