Sunday, May 10, 2015

Finishing Strong

The end of another school year is upon us. May is the season of graduations, field trips, celebrations, art shows, field days, and so much more. Schedules become interrupted, making instructional time more sacred than ever before. Kids, families, and teachers are TIRED. It seems harder to get out of bed during the last weeks of school...for kids and teachers alike! We can easily slack off, lower our expectations, sway from the daily instructional schedule, and allow more ¨free time¨ in our classrooms. Should we relax more, or should we continue pressing on? The answer to that questions is...we should do BOTH. 

Press On to the Finish Line
The truth is that kids cannot afford for us to loosen the school day and take away instructional time from them. Consider the most at risk child in your classroom. What does three to four weeks of instruction mean to her? When she moves to the next grade in the fall, how will ¨the summer slide¨ impact her? Pressing forward by honoring instructional time will support kids all the way to the end, and help them carry over into the summer months. 

A More Appealing Path
Finishing strong requires a level of motivation that looks different than the starting line. At the beginning of a race, runners are highly motivated by the energy stored in the body. They know it won't be easy, but feel ready to face the path ahead. The finish line is not in sight, yet they envision getting there. Throughout the race, runners' level of energy begins to decrease, and their motivation may be hindered by negative thoughts or emotions, fatigue, etc. The end may be in sight, but the stretch to the finish line seems too far out of reach. Finishing requires a new mindset; one of determination, renewal, and positive thinking. Finishing requires something different than starting. It requires MORE. We can keep kids focused and motivated, but doing so requires us to go the extra mile, considering it will take more to ¨edutain¨ students in May than it did in September. 

Relax a Little
When the home stretch reveals the finish line, runners can relax their minds and begin to enjoy the accomplishment before them. Although they must muster up every ounce of strength and will within, their minds can begin to celebrate where they are. We can do the same with our students. It is a FACT that teaching kids in May takes more energy, creativity, and patience than teaching kids in September. Instead of allowing stress and fatigue to consume us, we can take the time to relax and ENJOY our surroundings. We have invested in these kids for nine months...they are ours. They are leaving us, moving on to another chapter in their little worlds. Enjoy them. Play with them. Tell them stories. Engage them. Entertain them. Do all of these things while continuing to teach them. Finish so strong that they will always remember you for great things. You are a huge part of their world. You have been their leader for nine months. You will forever be part of their development. 

Finish strong this school year. Allow your mindset to shift so you can push through the finish line and look back to see your accomplishments. 

Press On, Relax...and enjoy the finish. 


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