Saturday, May 2, 2015

Calming the Chaos

Once again, my BlogFriend, Kristy, from Two Peas and a Dog, has linked up some bloggers to discuss their strategies for Calming the End-of-the-Year Chaos.

In reality, this blog post ended up being rather therapeutic for me. We still have six weeks of school left, and my sixth graders seem oddly certain that summer is already HERE. We haven't even finished testing yet, and I am having to hang on for dear life just to keep the peace among thirty-five tweenagers.

I've been staring at a blank computer screen for the last hour wondering about the answer to this question: How WILL I survive until June 15th?

After some reflection, I have narrowed things down to three basic tenets...

First, I have to stay healthy. This includes getting enough sleep and expanding my food intake beyond items that consist primarily of sugar and/or caffeine. I'm not sure about your school, but in the past few weeks it seems like a conveyor belt of treats has been shuttling non-stop through school. Those yummy snacks leave me tired, which sends me in search of more caffeine... which rarely keeps me alert (or even awake) and more often leaves me feeling grumpy--all of which is counterproductive!.

A good attitude (made more likely by a healthy diet and enough sleep) gives me the reserve of energy I need to fight off the blues (theirs and mine!). Besides, every time, I don't follow through with better eating and sleeping, I get sick. And we all know how that affects the process.

Yesterday, I planned four math mini-lessons, a review of the elements of a narrative, a comparison of two texts, and a brush up on using context clues to decipher unknown vocabulary... all before lunch. By the time, the second child said, "Wait. Which one is the narrative?" my patience was ebbing. Add to this: sibling-like squabbles and broken rules and lost pencils and unfinished/misplaced/I-never-got-that-page homework, and the smile was quickly fading.

I've settled on a two-part approach to this problem. The first is forgiving myself. If I am going to reflect endlessly on the lessons that fell flat, I'm not going to be successful when I have to return to school the next day. I'm going to have to let it go (which is very hard for me--with or without the song) and focus my energy on a different approach. Today it was rotating through stations with fewer math problems but in a way that seemed more somehow more accessible. Not perfect, but better!

Even more importantly, I am going to have to pick my battles in terms of behavior. Obviously, there are problems that must be addressed. (And maintaining my routines is the next item on my list). But I think the kids are getting tired of having yet another "serious discussion" about sharing and honesty and trust and respect and, and, and... Sigh. Time to replace the lost pencil, apologize, forgive and move on. Time is precious.

This last pledge is based on the previous one. While I need to change up my lessons and plan some fun activities and let the small stuff go, I still have to navigate through twenty-nine more school days. I need to keep some constancy in terms of routines and expectations and schedules... or we will never make it to June!

At some point this week, I confused letting it go with letting it all GO. That was a mistake. I think, at least for my kids, there needs to be enough predictability so that the fun activities are novel and stand out. When there just a few days (or hours) remaining, I can let things unfold with less direction. But with weeks still yawning ahead of us, I let the hot weather convince me that we were almost done. In reality, it's not summer yet. There is still plenty of teaching and learning (and fun!) ahead of us.

So those are my three hope-fors. I recognize that many teachers are, truly, just days away from the year's end. But if you're like me, there are still days and days to fill...

That's why Kristy pulled some teachers together. You can click on any of the blog buttons at the end of the post to read about other approaches to beating the End of the Year Blues and finishing strong.

How are YOU calming the chaos? I'd love to hear your strategies for finishing the year on a good note. Leave a comment below so I can also add your ideas to my list.

And whether it is a few days or few weeks until your countdown is complete, I am hoping you have enjoyed a wonderful school year!


  1. I like the reminder about keeping the routines going. It's always a lot harder to re-establish those routines at the end of the year if you let them slip!

  2. I agree that sometimes you have to let it's important to focus on the big picture even in the chaos.

  3. Thank you for the great advice! I needed tip #1 especially--we don't need to forget to take care of ourselves!

  4. Love it! I've been singing "Let it Go" for the last week... I have also adopted it as my mantra to get me through to the end of June. We can do it!!

  5. Wow... I just wrote about almost the same thing! Taking care of yourself does need to be priority #1! It's so crazy right now! I'm so glad to hear someone else is experiencing the same thing. These kids are nuts right now! Check out my thoughts in my blog:


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