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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Fostering Positive Vibes at the End of the Year

Anyone else feel weighed down by negativity as this ridiculous school year limps towards the finish line? From staff and from students, there is so much heightened emotion, stress, and just straight up exhaustion. Here are three concrete ways I am pushing back against the negative energy to do everything I can to promote positive vibes for my students and for myself through the end of the school year.

1. positive notes

I'm doubling down on recognizing students for positive things. I continue to give happy notes at the end of every lesson (info on that in this blog post), and I've started leaving secret messages on sticky notes for students to find in the morning as well (info on that in this blog post). I'm also making a point of reporting to the principal when a student who often struggles demonstrates genuine effort to do something positive, and make sure my principal talks to that student to let them know what he heard from me. Every bit of positive reinforcement is worth its weight in gold, now more than ever- not just for the students on the receiving end but for me too because it focuses my thoughts on noticing the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives!

2. routines

There's so much disruption to the normal routine at the end of the year because of state testing, schoolwide events, and concert prep. While I am all about changing things up and doing something new and different to hold students' interest, I'm also making sure I'm not letting go of our routines. I'm leaving more time than I have been for each transition, especially at the beginning and end of class, and making sure I'm not skipping anything in the interest of time. Every bit of predictability helps control the chaos for everyone! Here's more info on what I do at the end of class, and what I do at the beginning of class.

3. keep teaching

As much as I sometimes just want to throw on a play-along, or put on some music for freeze dance, and just call it a day, I find I deal with far fewer disruptive behaviors and a lot less negativity when I keep plugging away with teaching content. It's definitely not anything heavy but the students and I all feel more motivated when we all know there's actual purpose to what we're doing, not just killing time. Sometimes that means reviewing concepts we haven't practiced in a little while, sometimes that's starting to preview concepts they'll be learning in the next grade level, and sometimes it's working towards a class performance that I plan to videotape and share with families. Yes, I'm keeping it fun and light, but as much as I may not feel like it when I'm lesson planning it makes things much more pleasant when there is some kind of genuine purpose to what we're doing.

I know it's exhausting out there right now but I hope some of these tips can help someone find a little more joy at the end of this school year! We could sure use it, that's for sure.

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