Many teachers have their eyes set on summer break. However, there are often many obstacles along this path toward much needed reprieve: finalizing grades, cleaning classrooms, completing paperwork, and more.
These mounting tasks can make the last few weeks of the school year overwhelming for educators, distracting them from connecting with their students and preventing them from ending the year on a positive note. Instead, we want teachers to end the school year feeling encouraged and supported!
Below are some steps that school leaders and administrators can take to mitigate overwhelm as the year comes to a close:
Set Clear Expectations
By setting clear expectations about teachers’ responsibilities to wrap up the school year, administrators can take away the guesswork and confusion. With explicit tasks and expectations, teachers are able to plan and coordinate their final weeks.
One tangible way to set clear expectations is to create an end-of-the year to-do list for teachers. Here are some of the items that could be added to a checklist:
- Remove personal belongings from classroom
- Move all desks/chairs to the back of the room
- Remove all posters and decorations from classroom
- Inform custodial staff of any repair or cleaning needs
- Return school laptops/iPads
- Return chargers
- Ensure documents on desktop are backed up on the Cloud
Grading & Student Work
- Submit final grades
- Provide student comments
- Return student work
- Submit IEP/504 Plan paperwork
- Sign attendance records
- Sign and submit end-of-year teacher evaluation
- Return classroom keys
Often, time can be the barrier to completing end-of-year tasks. This can cause teachers stress and overwhelm during a time of the year that should be exciting and reflective.
Consider ways that you can structurally integrate more time into teachers’ schedules to complete final tasks and responsibilities.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Set aside independent work time during final staff meetings to allow teachers to work on their end-of-year checklist or to ask questions.
- Scale back expectations like lesson planning requirements to create more capacity for teachers to complete end-of-year tasks during prep periods.
- Integrate independent work time into standing meetings (i.e. grade-level meetings, content meetings, etc).
Creating clear pathways for support can help teachers complete end-of-year tasks seamlessly and confidently. When teachers spend time tracking down who has answers to their questions, it only adds to a sense of overwhelm. Instead, explicitly communicate when, from whom, where to receive support makes the process streamlined.
Here are a some ideas for how to provide teachers support:
- Set up office hours: During the final weeks of the school year, try to establish school leader office hours. This is a dedicated, recurring time where teachers can dependably locate their school leader to ask questions or request support for end-of-year tasks. If possible, try to schedule office hours during times that align with teachers’ availability (i.e. prep periods, lunch, etc).
- Question/support box: In the teachers’ lounge or the main office, create a question/support box. This is where teachers can drop off their questions or needs for support with end-of-year tasks. This can take away the burden of teachers trying to track down someone for questions and simplify the process of offering support.
- Be explicit about who has answers: If you decide to create a version of an end-of-year checklist, alongside each task, indicate who teachers should reach out to if they have questions or support. For example, if a teacher has questions about submitting attendance records or returning technology equipment, who should they talk to?
Finally, be sure to demonstrate grace and flexibility as teachers navigate this exciting but stressful time. If teachers are unnecessarily penalized or chastised for difficulties with end-of-year tasks, school culture and teacher morale can be seriously impacted. Instead, we want teachers to head into summer vacation feeling positive about their interactions with school leaders.
When creating deadlines for end-of-year tasks, think about the hard deadlines for each task, and then set the due dates a week prior to the hard deadline. This helps to integrate a level of flexibility into this process.