With reports, final assessments, and parent interviews all vying for our attention, Term 4 always carries the risk of burnout. And after the chaos of the 2020 school year, it’s greater than ever before.
So how do we avoid falling over the finish line in an underslept and overanxious heap?
Here are 5 tips to help you see out the last chapter of the school year with your health and happiness intact.
‘Chunk’ your workload into daily quotas
Term 4 brings plenty of after-hours work, but it won’t swallow your evenings and weekends if you set a daily quota of items to get done.
Say you’ve got 30 assessments to mark. You can achieve this in five days if you set a quota of six per day: five after school, one in the morning. You’ll only be marking for small stretches at a time – and you no longer have to kiss Sunday afternoon goodbye.
Aim for a certain number of tasks – not hours – to avoid procrastination.
You’ll get to keep your downtime without sacrificing productivity.
Share resources with fellow teachers
You might not be able to do away with reports and marking, but you can get out of grinding out another PowerPoint, worksheet or graphic organiser at 8 pm.
Ask another teacher if they’ve got anything you can use for your upcoming lessons. It saves you the effort of creating resources from scratch and – bonus! – you already know whatever they give you has been tried and tested.
Sharing resources is something that can benefit every teacher in your department or grade level, so consider making a shared drive or file everyone can access and fill it with resources like:
- lesson plans
- assessment tasks
- parent communications such as permission slips
- student work examples and models
- assessment rubrics.
Find a change of scene
Long hours spent in cluttered offices and under fluorescent lights will take their toll, mentally and physically.
Get some space and a change in work environment by taking that pile of marking elsewhere.
Most schools have under-utilised spots that are perfect for temporarily escaping student (and staff) voices, so go for a walk and see what you can find.
If you’ve got planning time outside of recess or lunch, find a bench by the oval and work in natural light for a change, or try the common staff room when it’s not busy.
Clean your desk at the end of each day
Term 4 is when teacher desks start to morph into their own ecosystems, with small mountain ranges of student work and forests of neglected mugs.
Even if things don’t go missing, a messy desk starts to sap your mental energy – fast. It takes just that little bit longer to find what you need, and you spend an unfair amount of your day staring into the dregs of yesterday’s teacups.
So before you head home for the day, clean your desk up. You’ll prevent it from becoming diabolical, and be able to start tomorrow with a clean slate.
Take the focus off yourself, and put it back on your students
Plan for more student-centric learning experiences in Term 4. It’s less exhausting for you, and your students will love the opportunity to learn in a more hands-on fashion. You could:
- Let students immerse themselves in an open-ended project for an extended period.
- Task students with independently researching a new topic (instead of delivering a lecture).
- Revise the year’s learning by having students deliver mini tutorials.
- Set challenges and problem-solving activities for students to solve in groups.
- Introduce regular independent activities, like maintaining a learning journal.
All these activities give your students a chance to consolidate their learning independently, and you a chance to catch your breath.
Outsource homework to a digital program
You’ve done a good chunk of your reports, marked a stack of assessments, and planned a lesson that will keep your students from climbing the walls tomorrow morning.
But just when you’re about to call it a night, you remember the pile of returned homework that’s still sitting in your bag.
That isn’t going to mark itself.
It would be great to do away with homework entirely in Term 4, but there’s still more learning to be done than can be achieved in class time alone.
But if you outsource homework to an online learning program, you can strike the extra marking off your to-do list. In our curriculum-aligned literacy and maths programs, for example, homework can be as simple as:
- having students complete one in-program lesson each day. The lessons are already in there and automatically assigned to students as they work at their own pace, so you don’t need to do anything other than look at the results – which are marked automatically.
- choosing an appropriate activity from the hundreds of in-program resources and assigning it to all students. It’s marked automatically, with the results delivered straight to your inbox.
Your students will love the engaging, gamified features of the program, and you’ll love the way it gives you back the time and energy you need to focus on yourself and your wellbeing. Because after this year, you’ve earned it.