Teacher Perspective: Don’t Let Your Own ‘End of Year’ Burnout Shortchange Your Students

A few days ago, I found myself planning for next year. While I know that annual goals and resolutions are thought about at the end of a calendar year, as an educator, I find myself living on an August to the end of June calendar. Thus, planning ahead and thinking about all the different activities and events I want to bring to our school for the coming year has become normal for me. Recently in the midst of hosting an egg drop challenge, a week before scheduled testing, in what felt like the beginning of hell month for us all, I came to the realization that maybe planning ahead has become an invisible barrier, hindering me from being more intentional in the present.

I take pride in firmly believing that ALL students deserve a quality education. I live and breath equity and access, and I often find myself advocating for more resources and tools for our students. Still, like most of my colleagues, I too fall into the “end-of-the-year” burnout and check myself out before its even time to leave. How can I say that our students deserve champions and teachers who care for them if I too end up feeling too tired to want to make the best of what’s left of the year and instead prefer to comfort myself by thinking about next year and making resolutions about how much more intentional I will be then? If this sounds contradicting,  it is. As educators, we owe our students the opportunity to make every day feel special. We never know when the light bulb will turn on and if we don’t make every single school day count, we are actually doing a disservice to their education.

I share this reflective moment because I know that it is easy to share all our successes, but it is not as easy to share our not-so-proud moments. In order for us to be the cheerful, creative and challenging educators our students need, we need to take time to reflect and do better every day. The end of the year is always rough because of all of the activities that need to be completed before the last day of school. But the way we end should be less about making time pass us by and more about building memories and engaging our students in way that will make them look forward to school. I know that testing season is overwhelming and feeling like the pile of assignments to grade on our desk only gets taller is exhausting, but in all that we feel, how often do we think how our students feel? Students are perceptive. They know when we are not fully present and can sense when we are disconnected. Let’s do our best to be intentional with our now. Let’s make testing less about the examination and more about celebrating how far our students have come. Let’s make our afternoons after an entire morning of online assessments more about project-based learning and less about cramming in more information.

This is the time we always wish for during the year — the time to be more flexible and make learning fun and challenging in different ways that may not be completely connected to “standards.” We directly impact our students on a daily basis. Why not prioritize making every day count and leave the heavy duty planning for next year for when students leave for the summer?  

What do you think?

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Alma Renteria

Alma Renteria

Alma-Delia Renteria is a proud product of Lynwood schools. After graduating UC Riverside, with a B.A. in English and a year earlier than anticipated, she decided to commit her “gap year” to City Year. After City Year Los Angeles, Alma went on to purse a teaching career with Teach For America Los Angeles. Upon joining TFA, Alma began her education career as a middle school teacher. It was while teaching that she realized the need to do her part to help serve the community she grew up in and decided to run for office, getting elected to the Lynwood School Board at only 23 years old. Alma completed her first Master’s degree in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University and a 2nd Masters in Educational Leadership along with her Admin Credential at Concordia University. She was appointed by the Speaker to the Instructional Quality Commission and re-elected to the Lynwood School Board in 2018. She currently serves as the Principal at a local elementary school in Pico Rivera, where she hopes to demonstrate that magic is possible when thee right people are given opportunities to lead.

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