Students and Teachers sometimes find themselves counting down the days till the end of the school year.
Sometimes it takes nothing less than sheer will and determination to make it through the last 40 days till summer.
Late one afternoon last week, I found a student smiling a smile of sheer relief at the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF). "Only 40 days left," she grinned.
She was meticulously counting down the days till the end of the school year.
I smiled to myself. As much as I enjoyed the years I spent teaching in New York City, I have to admit that I, too, hit The Wall around this time of year.
Here are some practical tips to help keep sane while counting down the days till the end of the school year.
Tactic 1: Teachers Supporting Teachers
Let me start with self-care, because this is the key to a long and rewarding career as a classroom teacher. It's hard for folks to hear this, but most teachers don't leave the classroom because of the salaries.
Some of our nation's best teachers have left the classroom because they are genuinely exhausted and professionally isolated. It’s usually a question of morale, not money.
It's great to see so many young educators seeking opportunities in administration five years into the game and flexing their educational entrepreneurial muscles, but the reality is that we desperately need master teachers to stay directly connected to our students, and to offer practical coaching to newbies.
No matter what your preparation for the classroom experience is like, something will happen to throw you for a loop and make you wonder how you ended up behind closed doors with a room full of other people's children.
So my self-care advice is two-fold. Start a weekly coffee house-like club with teacher colleagues to share ideas for keeping it fresh, to get feedback on challenges and wonderful things that are happening, and to get general support on how to handle everything from pressure around testing to administration politics.
And make sure there's someone in the circle with more than ten years of classroom experience. I would never have survived as long as I did without Ms. George and Ms. Goodman.
The reality is that teachers get better with time, but also that there is nothing new under the sun.
Don't go it alone.
Many years have passed since I stood at the front of a classroom trying to impart my enthusiasm for learning and the possibility I saw in my students.
But, my respect for what it takes and my recognition of the persistence required to stay the course, at a time with teacher job satisfaction is at a 20 year low, hasn’t diminished.
Keep keeping on.
And, if all else fails, start counting down the days till the end of the school year and think about what you’ll do with those sacred weeks off this summer.
She teaches at California State University, East Bay and is known as America's Most Trusted Learning Expert. She helps children and adults solve learning problems with her Amazing Grades Study Skills System and is an expert in learning styles.
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