How to Make It to the End of the School Year

Yesterday after school I earned my dumpster diver 101 merit badge as a senior and I went through the school's trash looking for an unmarked photo cd that had been accidentally tossed. (They may doubt my sanity but they can't doubt my love.)

Make the days count as we talk about how to make it to the end of the school year

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After it was found I drove home quickly to take a hot bath. (I was reminded of a word I haven't used in ages but we used often in the 1980's “grody” – not even sure if that is a word.) All the while,  I started thinking about the crazy days that these are.

How to make it to the end of the school year

It is the end of school for us — April and May are nuts. These are days apt to be described by the first paragraph of “A Tale of Two Cities.” Right now I have 3 planning periods a week. (Not kidding.) Plus Special Olympics Bocce Ball. PLUS NHS Blood Drive. PLUS Senior Slide show. PLUS Graduation movie. PLUS Bidding out pulling cable for the new building. PLUS the Technology plan and budget for next year. PLUS tech support. PLUS my book launch for Reinventing Writing to coordinate. PLUS graduating my second child and getting her off to college.

MINUS sanity.

I say this because tens of thousands of you live this every day. This is your life. You totally get this.

To bad no one else does. Don't expect them to either.

People are going to start casually saying

“Aren't you glad things are winding down.”


The school year doesn't wind down! It crashes. Source:

The school year doesn't wind down! It crashes.

The School Year Doesn't “Wind Down”!

And you know they are among the clueless. There is nothing “winding down” about the end of the school year. It is more like a complete and total crash. You accelerate until you run into a brick wall and you hope your seatbelt lets you get out of the thing intact so you can limp off to your summer. The first week or so of my summer is spent sipping coffee – staring into space and reading books where stuff gets blown up. I'm worthless because I'm spent. Every shred of everything I had to give is given.


You're Going to Make This

But as one teacher to another – you're going to make this.

If you're a new teacher and you've never experienced this side of the “end of school” – the jolting, nerve wracking, exhausting, ridiculous side of “ending” school – then it is OK. You'll make it. It is one of the toughest most taxing things you'll experience.


The Fallacy of Summer “Vacation”

Then, everyone in the world is “jealous” of teachers but they don't understand that we are hurting, exhausted, and often wounded by this time. We don't fault new Moms for staying at home for 6 or 8 weeks after having a child. They're not “getting time off.”

We aren't either. When the summer starts, we've just come through something – to me – as taxing and exhausting as childbirth. I may not feel as close to death as I did when I had my 10 pound baby girl (who is now 6'1″ and graduating) but in terms of wondering if you can do one more thing – it is the same thing.



Hold On, Hang On, Yell For Joy In the Wind

So, just know that you're going to find yourself doing all kinds of things over the next 6-8 weeks. You may even find yourself in the dumpster – or even worse, the proverbial dumps. But hold on, you're going to make it. Yell in the wind as it whips your hair. Enjoy it for what it is.

Be noble. Work hard. Keep your commitment to excellence. It is never OK to go on autopilot. These kids can watch movies all summer – don't give into the temptation to be sorry – you've still got things to do. Teach until the last day. Find your beautiful moment every week.

You rock teacher and often your nobility is observed and measured these last weeks when many slack off and head on summer break early. Finish well. Do incredible things. Be epic. Never settle.

We get one chance at this life and everything we do in the classroom is important. Have fun but have fun with purpose. Be intentional about everything. Make memories. These are hard times but they are sweet times.


Sometimes what we need is not a push but rather a pull to keep going.

When we try to sit down, we must pull each other towards excellence as the school year ends.

Pulling You Forward

So, as I emerged from playing in the trash yesterday it was with a laugh and a high five and the joy at knowing that I showed love by my willingness to play in the trash. And that, my friends, is why you and I are here. For the lessons we teach in our classrooms are important, but the lessons we teach with our lives are never forgotten.

And this is just another one of those lessons. The hope that if I share this little piece of myself and my own struggle, that it will encourage you.  We can do this, my dear friends. I'm so happy to be a teacher even though it is hard.


The magic happens outside your comfort zone

The magic never happens inside your comfort zone. The end of the school year is the time we must push past the comfort zone and rutt and be “awesomer” than we've ever been.

So, how to make it to the end of the school year?

Pull each other forward, friends. We're going to need each other in the coming days. For we can't expect the world out there to know what this is like, but we should expect support, encouragement and a magnetic pull of excellence from our PLN and colleagues to finish this year in awesome ways.

And remember this one essential point — the magic always happens outside your comfort zone. So of all things you can do, don't get comfortable. Get better and better and end in amazing ways.  You can either be memorable or you're forgettable. The same applies to what you teach.

Live it. Be it. Be noble. We're in an important profession. Teach on till the last day. Let's rock!


Picture Credits:

End of School  Year Baby:

Keep Calm Poster:

Where the Magic Happens Venn

I love students! Best teacher blog winner * Mom * Speaker * author * HOST 10-Minute Teacher Show * @Mashable Top Teacher on Twitter * top #edtech Twitterer

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8 thoughts on “How to Make It to the End of the School Year

  1. I loved reading this post this morning! You put into words what so many teachers are feeling, will feel, have felt! The admonition to stay strong until the end is true, but I love the idea of coming alongside my colleagues to help pull them them forward to the end, just as I know they will pull me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Jamie. I’m so glad this resonated. We need each other this time of year. This is where the collegiality and the encouragement of other teachers really makes a difference. Thanks for encouraging me with your response. Comments mean so much to me – I read each and everyone. It also helps for other teachers reading this post to hear from other teachers. You are welcome!

      – – – – – – –
      *Vicki A. Davis @coolcatteacher * Author, *Reinventing Writing *(2014) and *Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds*
      – – – – – – –

      *::This email is off the record (blogs and tweets too) unless we agree otherwise.::*

  2. 3 planning mods a week??! (We are on a modified block schedule, so on the Tues/Thurs schedule I only get 2. Good post and you are correct — no one gets it. A caution to teachers who may also be mother’s of little athletes. Be sure to tell them no when they ask you to be Team Mom for Little League. I made this mistake when my son was in T-ball. Their reasoning was that I was “off all summer”. But what they did not tell me was that picture forms and money, and the fund raisers as well as scheduling all the parents to work concessions and creating a spreadsheet of who was bringing drinks to what games all summer all needed to take place in May. It was horrible timing for me to be taking that on with all of my final exams and projects (I teach 11th and 12th grade English.) I only made that mistake once. Hang in there and Happy Spring!

  3. Vicki,
    Thank you so much for putting this feeling of nobleness into words. I am sharing this with my staff today, because this is how I feel about my group of magic makers. Keep up the good work and enjoy your daughters graduation. My oldest graduates from college in a few weeks, spa I am right there with you!

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