May–that Dreaded Month

I started off fairly strongly with my blogging activity; however, the damned month known as May has struck once more.
My fellow educators out there know exactly what I’m talking about.  When the erratic Midwest weather begins to warm and stabilize, in comes the flood waters of final essays and exams. This year I’m trying to make things as easy on myself as possible.  And for all those that have faced a massive stack of essays within the last few weeks of class know so well that you have to plan accordingly in order to keep your sanity.

Following are some of my personal tips for bravely surviving those end-of-the-year blues:

  1. Stagger your workload – Just because it’s finals week doesn’t mean that you have to have all of your classes turn in their final papers, portfolios, or projects.  Give some of your classes their paper early and shift around a different activity to take its normal place.  Don’t force yourself to pull a ton of all-nighters if you don’t have to.
  2. Lessen your lessons – Will it really be the end of the world if you don’t get that last poetry unit in or if you don’t cover the political climate of the 1990s?  Cut yourself some slack and get some of these projects done a few days early to give you the extra time.  Content is less important than skills.  This is the age of the internet, so if students are really that interested in what you were going to cover, they can find it on their own or may learn about it down the road in another class.
  3. Grade during your downtime – Got a few extra minutes during your breaks or while waiting for a bus?  Have papers to grade!  Just the other day I was on a long car ride to visit my friend at the hospital, and I knocked out a few papers.  It may not have been much, but it is better than nothing at all.
  4. Reward yourself – If you are caught slogging through a huge stack of papers, make mini goals for yourself.  After five papers, go grab a snack.  After another five, go take a walk with the dog.  After another five, take a break to watch an episode of your favorite TV show.  The more you grade, the higher the reward should be.
  5. Don’t procrastinate – Practice what you preach.  Don’t fall into the trap of your kids.  Even if most of them waited until the last minute to write the paper, don’t wait to grade it.  Get it done sooner rather than later.

Now that I’ve successfully kept myself from grading papers tonight, let’s hope you have much better luck!  Don’t give in, fellow teachers!  June is right around the corner!

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