Saturday, April 15, 2017

5 Ways to Finish

Spring has arrived and the final quarter of the school year is here. Whether you live in the northeast or the southwest, students and teachers know that the seasons have changed and this school year is quickly coming to a close.

With each day passing there is an opportunity in front of us as educators that we cannot dismiss. It happens every year and we see it around us. Many times it happens within us. Either we raise our game and put the throttle down and finish strong or we simply take our foot off the gas and go on autopilot and coast until that final bell.

Here are five ways to finish the year that is best for students and best for you. As educators we have invested countless hours in planning, delivering and embracing the opportunities of each school day. Now that the final months have arrived, here is our opportunity to deliver some of the most powerful lessons of the year. With that, consider these tips to stay dialed in.

1. Stay Focused. Seasons have changed and it is getting greener. While we hear the birds chirping and see the flowers blooming, remain focused on the lessons yet to be taught. Make sure your learning targets are clear, your lessons are rich with student engagement and you are intentional with your assessments. Measure learning NOT material. This time of year you can get more from your students than at any other point. Keep yourself focused and the impact you will make will be obvious.

2. Relationships Still Come First. You have spent 8 months building upon the relationships that come to your classroom each day. Your students are hanging on every word that you speak and believe in you now more than ever before. This is your opportunity to dive into some learning and really draw from them their passion to grow. Be intentional in your instruction and use the relationships that you have fostered to push the limits of teaching and learning.

3. Grow Yourself. Recently a conversation arose about teachers and professional development toward the end of the school year. Educators are exhausted and administrators are attempting to find balance between allowing for that space to breath while still expecting best practices and growth among their staff. The reality is this, we never stop learning. As an educator you should be pushing yourself professionally as much in April as you did in August. There is no "down time" and there is no break in learning. Model this with your students. Show them that growth happens year round.

4. Check Your Goals. Remember when you sat down created your SMART goals to start the year? This is the time to assess where you are and ensure you have put the effort into accomplishing each and every one of those. If you have not been able to complete what you intended to start, time to get busy. Goals are set for a reason and if you haven't reached them, do not abort your passion to do so, simply find a way to get to the finish line and lean on others for support and guidance.

5. Celebrate. We have worked hard. Knowing we have spent hours upon hours of preparation and delivery and now comes the reality that the year is coming to an end. The relationships you have formed have paid off in the expectations you have set of others. Whether as a classroom teacher, a building administrator or a district office leader, find balance in the push to the end while ensuring that there is celebration of the organizations accomplishments. Just like a graduation ceremony for seniors, include the pomp and circumstance for even the youngest of our students. Celebrate your efforts and the efforts of those around you.

Everything we do in education begins and ends with the interactions we have with others. Our role is to ensure that it is those purposeful and intentional relationships that will drive the successes we experience throughout the entire school year. As you wrap up your academic year remember to finish strong. Avoid going on autopilot and make the most of each moment of each day.