Linda Kardamis on episode 309 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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Finish well. Today, Linda Kardamis shares common mistakes to avoid and positive things to do that will help you have a successful finish to your school year.
How to Finish The School Year Strong
Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e309
Date: May 10, 2018
Vicki: One of the most popular shows of last year was Linda Kardamis from Teach 4 the Heart (http://teach4theheart.com/). We’ll link to that show because she had so many great ideas there.
Now, Linda,we’re going to talk about how to finish the school year strong. How can we finish strong? So many people get so tired and they just want to put their feet up on their desk!
Linda: Yes, and that’s actually my first tip.
As much as you want to coast, don’t coast. Instead, be intentional with your time and choose. Make a mental decision, “I’m going to make these last days count.” It all starts there.
Vicki: Oh, it does.
But how do we decide what to do? We can either say, “Oh, there are all these things I haven’t taught,” or “You know what? I’m just done.”
I think it’s important to keep first things first because there are always a million things to do, so you really have to prioritize. Ask yourself, “What really needs to get done?” “What should I let go, and you know, wait until next week or next month or the summer?”
Vicki: That is so hard to do.
Vicki: What’s another tip for us?
Linda: I think at the end of the year, you’ve spent time developing all these relationships with your students. You’re about to be done with them, but this last month or two is your opportunity to draw on those relationships that you’ve built. You’re closest to them that you’ve been all year, and so use that.
Draw on the relationships that you have built all year
This is your chance to inspire them, to guide them, to counsel them, and to speak truth into their lives.
So be looking for those opportunities and take advantage of them.
Vicki: Oh, and kids remember what we do first and what we do last. I was sitting at a mama’s desk today talking about some great things that her son can do. She just teared up and said, “School is about getting grades, but sometimes we forget to talk about, ‘You do this well, but I can’t put it on the report card. But this is you, huh.’”
Linda: Yes, it’s a great way to encourage them as they’re heading into their summer and finishing up the year. For sure.
Vicki: What’s next?
Linda: Next I would say, this just goes to really practical tip.
As you are looking at your material you are hoping to cover between now and the end of the year, and saying “Oh my goodness, I don’t have enough time to do all of this,” this is a good time to stop and take inventory of that and be strategic.
Take inventory of what’s left to cover and be strategic
The last thing you want to do is keep plodding along and miss whatever was last in your curriculum math, or your book, or whatever you have.
This is a good time to sit down and be intentional and ask yourself, “What is most important?” and make sure you get that in, even if it’s not the next thing sequentially.
Vicki: OK, I’m going to be honest. In one of my classes, I’m actually tracking to finish a little early. What do we do if somebody is actually a little ahead?
Linda: This is actually my next tip.
I ran into this problem, because I’m a leader. I was always either right there, sometimes I finish early.
My word of caution is don’t finish too early or if you do, have a really good project based learning activity or something that you’re doing at the end.
Don’t finish too early — or have a great end project if you do
If you’ve finished too early — I did this my first year — I was like “We’re done a week early! We’re just going to do fun review activities!”
But as soon as the students saw that we were done, they checked out. All of my review activities were a disaster.
Maybe add a project at the end or do something just stay on your schedule so you’re not done-done too early.
Vicki: I hate to say it, but I actually love it when students come in by choice to work on stuff on the last day of school – they’re like, “I want to put an extra touch on that movie!” “Oh I really want to add this or that!”
I think we just have to capture every moment, don’t we?
Linda: Yes, and that’s such a great idea.
Like I said, if you’re having a project like that, that they are really passionate about,that they’re finishing up, and trying to put the last finishing touches on, I think that’s a great way to end the year for sure.
Vicki: What’s next?
Linda: I think, as you’re leaving the year, it’s really good to communicate with your parents, especially the ones of the kids that struggled.
Communicate with ALL parents, especially the ones of kids who struggled
The temptation is to just be like “Drop your report card, and just get out of there,” but it’s really good to go back and get one final touchpoint with those parents. I like to recommend things if they can do over the summer, even if I know that the voice in the back of my head is going, “They aren’t going to care.”
You don’t know that. Just take a few minutes. t can be the same email that you copy and paste and then adjust, but send out something to those parents, with some recommendations for the summer, things they can do, and maybe a last word of encouragement for their students.
Vicki: That is so important, because we really are partners with helping the kids, in some ways that’s like passing the baton to the parents over the summer, isn’t it?
Linda: Yes, absolutely. Sure.
Vicki: Okay, what else?
Linda: My next tip is to try to leave things as organized as possible. Now, I did say “try,” because I know it’s pretty crazy, but just keep in mind the more organized you leave things now, the easier it will be if you are staying at the same place when you come in next fall.
Try to leave things as organized as possible for yourself for the fall
Even if you aren’t teaching in the same place, though, taking a few minutes to jot down some notes for yourself — like this lesson worked, or this lesson didn’t, or I want to try this again.
Even little things like that can be helpful. And like I said, maybe even tackling those desk drawers, the closet. If you have any time to do any of that, it will make things way easier for you come fall.
Vicki: I love that. I actually right now have started my “Simplify Journal.” Every single day I try to simplify my room in one or two ways and it just makes me feel free!
Linda: Oh, that’s great!
Vicki: Ok, yeah! What’s our last one?
Simply commit to enjoying the last few days
Linda: The last one is just simply decide to enjoy these last few days. This is really simple, but it can make such a difference. We’re so often tempted to just count down the days, and there’s nothing wrong with the countdown, but it’s mental. Are we really on mental countdown “I just have to do this many more days!”
We can do that, or we can choose to say, “These are the last few days I have with this group of students. I’m going to try the best I can just to enjoy them, be in the moment, and to take advantage of opportunities that I do. I think that mental decision really does impact everything else.
Vicki: Why I left the business world, and what teaching pays me that I don’t get from anything else is — it’s so much fun!
I feel just like I’m not laughing every day with the kids and if we’re not finding something funny, if we’re not working hard at work worth doing, then why are we there?
Nobody wants be bored! They don’t want to be bored, and I don’t want to be bored! We just aren’t phoning it in, we just want to finish and finish well, you know?
Linda: Absolutely, for sure.
Vicki: So, Linda, as we finish up, could you give teachers a 30-second pep talk of encouragement for finishing well and what it means to them in their professional career to be known as a finisher?
Are you a quitter, or are you a finisher?
Linda: You yourself will know how you finish. Just looking back when you’re sitting, relaxing by the pool, or just taking a nap, you will know if you phoned it in or if you really finished strong.
And your students will know too. How will they remember you? Will they remember you as “Thank goodness we’re done with that?” Or will they know that you really put in the effort and that you care for them? Because, really, it’s for them.
Vicki: Teachers, I can’t stress this enough.
I do feel that sometimes, I think we are raising a generation of quitters. “If I don’t get to play enough in baseball, I’m going to quit.” Or, “I don’t get to run in that even, or I can’t place in that event, so I’ll quit.”
And the thing is, we teach with our lives — whether we’re finishers or whether we’re quitters.
My philosophy is, something I do when I’m running, when my knees aren’t acting up, I always sprint at the end.
Linda: Me too!
Vicki: Yeah! I read that that’s the only way you build more muscle and build more strength is to sprint at the end.
I think that at the end, I know that it’s counterintuitive, but when you sprint at the end, you earn the respect of your colleagues, you earn the respect of your kids, and you can look at yourself in the mirror, and kind of blow on your knuckles, and go, “You know what? I’ve got this. And I’m doing it right, you know?”
Vicki: Okay, teachers, so let’s do this. Let’s finish well!
Linda: Finish strong!
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Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio as submitted
Linda Kardamis provides practical advice and Biblical encouragement for Christian teachers on her website Teach 4 the Heart (http://teach4theheart.com/). She is also the author of Create Your Dream Classroom (http://teach4theheart.com/dreamclassroom) and the creator of Classroom Management 101 (http://teach4theheart.com/cm101) and Teach Uplifted (http://teachuplifted.com).
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