Counting down the days? by @thenqtmentor

Is there a Cure for this Epidemic? How to Breeze Through the Last Week of Term

Minutes? Seconds?

We all do it; the end of the term is drawing near and the summer holidays are so close…

But what about the children? Are they managing the end of the term in the way you would like? Are they coping with the last few days when things go ‘off timetable’? Are they still managing to get along with one another?

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Steph Caswell and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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As an NQT, this will be the first time you have experienced the disease that sweeps through primary schools across the country, taking down children in its wake and making life miserable for teachers and support staff.

It’s name? End-of-term-itis.

If it hasn’t got to your class yet, you’re lucky because it is likely to be on its way! But what are the symptoms of End-of-term-itis? How will you know which children have been affected? And more importantly, is there a cure or a vaccine that can stop it in its wake?

Rest assured, it is treatable and, quite often, even curable. But you need to know the signs that your class are coming down with End-of-term-itis. Look at the list below, are any of these happening in your class at the moment?

  • Children arguing with one another over the smallest things
  • Presentation of work is slipping – handwriting is scrappy and there is a lot of crossing out
  • Low-level disruption is becoming more evident in the classroom – you’re trying to keep a lid on it but they keep pushing those boundaries
  • Children seem more tired and emotional
  • Effort levels have decreased – children ‘can’t be bothered’ to do things as quickly as they were in the spring term
  • Uniform is getting messy or trainers are creeping in for more than just PE
  • Homework isn’t being done or is handed in late

These are just a few of the symptoms that a teacher will be able to see on a daily basis.

The problem is that, not only are the children needing a break from school, the teachers are too. Managing the end of a term in a classroom is hard work and you may feel that you too are less rational and less enthusiastic about certain aspects of the job.

But fear not! There are ways that you can make the last couple of weeks of the term go by with the least disruption possible; fewer children are getting infected with End-of-term-itis and you could possibly stop an epidemic sweeping through the classroom.

Follow these 5 tips and the summer break will be here before you know it, with all children still feeling enthusiastic and happy to be in the building until the final minute.

1. Keep the children on a timetable as much as possible

This might not be completely in your hands, particularly if there are productions and sports days etc. to enjoy. But wherever possible keep them in their daily routine. Your anxiety-prone children will feel the most secure if you do this, and it will help manage the behaviour of others if the days are similar to normal. Remember that visual timetable – even in the last few days. If there are going to be any days that are completely different, give the children as much notice as possible.

2. Plan exciting activities

Even though the children are tired, it is still possible to keep the children’s enthusiasm at its peak with some fun topic work. The weather (should) certainly lend itself to outdoor learning but have a think about what else you could do to enthuse the children. It might be a class project or an art/design masterpiece! Work alongside the children to plan exactly what this might look like – be led by them and their interests as much as you can. But make the learning purposeful, as children can sniff out ‘holding activities’ really easily.

3. Keep your behaviour expectations high

As much as your class will know you and your boundaries well by now, don’t let things slip. My husband made a good point about this today; he said that no matter how much he really likes his class and how well they all get along, they still know where that line is. So relax a little bit, but don’t go as far as being horizontal, with the children walking all over you, wiping their feet as they go.

4. Keep rewards and motivation high

As much as remembering boundaries and rules is important, so is keeping the children’s motivation up by using specific rewards. This can be work-related or behaviour/effort related. It is up to you as you know the areas that your class need to really keep focused on. Is there any way that you could organise a class treat/event that they could all work at building up to? It might even be as easy as DVD and popcorn on the last day, but for most children, that is incentive enough.

5. Use games and physical lessons

This is a good way of keeping motivation for learning up as high as you can. Not everything has to be recorded in that last week, so relax a little on your demands for written work. Play spelling games, times table challenges or make videos about a particular topic you are studying. Acknowledge that the children are at their most tired at this point in the term/year, so don’t try and power on regardless.

More than anything, the children need to know that you are there to listen to them. If they are falling out with their friends or feeling tired and emotional, then let them know there is someone to talk to. Reassure them that everyone is feeling a similar way to them and that things will improve after you have all had a few weeks away from each other. You might want to set up a ‘worry box’ so that children know there is someone to post any concerns and problems they are having.

Hopefully, these tips will be useful to you in the last week of term and that you get to that last day, as smoothly as possible. You’re nearly there, so well done!

Have you got anything else that you find works during the last week(s) that you would be willing to share? If you have, please leave a comment/suggestion in the comments box below.

You can read other posts via Steph by clicking here

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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