End of year anxiety got you like...
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
This time of year is fun, exciting and busy – the end of the school year is rapidly approaching, Christmas is near and we look forward to spending more time with our families during the school holidays. For many teachers though, it’s also a time of year when anxiety peaks.
Maybe your contract is ending and you have to find work, or you have to change schools. Maybe you’ve been given a new year level – one you’ve never taught before – or you have to pack up your classroom and move (sometimes, only one or two classrooms away). I know exactly how you’re feeling, as I’ve had to do one of these things nearly every year in the 21 years that I’ve been teaching.
On top of that are all of the things that we have to do before the end of the year. Assessment, marking and report cards. End of year concerts and assemblies. Christmas gifts to make, and lots of art and craft activities. Class parties. Trying to manage and keep the students engaged. Packing up and cleaning the classroom. Social functions. Christmas shopping. And the list goes on… All of this can create the perfect storm of stress and anxiety, especially for those who already fight that daily battle.
I think many teachers are over-achievers, and as such we place so much pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly. But does every single thing really need to be perfect? Some things, like report card comments, of course must have the time and attention devoted to them that they require. But others, maybe not so much. Do you really need to create a fancy Christmas present for every student in your class – that ends up costing just as much money as it does time – or would a simple, heartfelt momento and message be enough? Think of the gifts you value most from your students – are they the ones that cost the most money, or the ones that are the most meaningful? These are the types of things that can drain us physically, mentally, and emotionally, when the don’t really need to.
If you’re having to make big changes, such as a new year level, you need to prioritise what you expend your energy on. I’m the first to admit that I like, maybe even need, my classroom to be a welcoming and pleasant environment – after all, I spend more time there each day than I do my own home. However I’ve learnt to accept that it is okay if it is not visually perfect – after all, it is US that makes our classroom warm and welcoming for our students. It’s more important to spend some time now adjusting to the upcoming changes, talking with peers and getting your head around what’s ahead next year. It’s also more important to spend this last week or two enjoying the time you have left with your current students, rather than stressing over what may or may not happen in the future.
By all means, do what you need to, but don’t do more than you have to. Prioritise and practise self- care – don’t let regular routines, like exercise slip. Try to get enough sleep. Ask for help. Take a step back and just breathe. Smile. Most of all, be kind to yourself.
Gotta run, I’m off to the school Christmas Concert! Yes, on a Friday night. ;-)