Summer Term Madness!
Keeping the Momentum Whilst Thinking Ahead
You can almost feel it – the feeling of the last day of the Summer term, the end of the school year, the day you feel like you get some of your life back. You’ve been writing reports for what seems like forever and you never want to see a national curriculum subject statement again. You are mentally, physically and emotionally drained. However, the pressure is still on to give the children in your class every inch of your very being to provide them with the best education they can get. Afterall, every moment counts.
I always really enjoyed the last few weeks of the summer term. They felt exciting but for me were usually some of the busiest weeks of the year – report writing and editing, sending off data to the local authority, organising and holding induction and transition days (which must look quite a bit different this year), sports days and finding out which year group you were going to be teaching in next year whilst still maintaining a high level of teaching and learning in your class who seem to have got that end of term feeling way to early. Something seemed to happen every day and I loved it! But I was shattered.
Not everyone likes the summer term craziness. Lots of teachers and teaching assistants feel anxious about the somewhat lack of routine and the uncertainty of what the next academic year may bring.
Keep going. This is the most important thing you can do. You may have a million things whizzing around in your head, especially about your class next year, but remaining focused is so important. The children in your class still need you and need to feel safe and secure in this busy time, so keep a normal routine as much as you can. If there are any changes to your daily routine, let the children know at the beginning of the day and talk about the expectations, so that they know exactly what will happen.
Every day, every moment counts and it’s so easy to begin to relax. All children need that extra push at the end of the year as, just like you, they are feeling tired. It can be hard to keep them motivated so your enthusiasm is key to keeping the learning going. Keep a particular focus on your target children – maintain interventions right up to the last day, as these children need that extra support. Encourage all children and give them specific praise for their efforts. Look back to the beginning of the year and point out all the progress the children have made. Why not get the first writing books out and ask the children to look back at their writing, noticing how much their writing has improved?
When you find out which year group you will be teaching in next year, you naturally can’t help but think about what you are going to do to prepare and what your next class are going to be like. I found myself spending time deliberating the topics I would be teaching and I’d begin to start making notes and lists of things I might need. It’s important to feel and be prepared for the next year but at the same time you still have your current class to support, so find the right balance to make sure you can do both.
I would plan time in my working week to dedicate to planning or preparation for next year. I found this really exciting and something that I really looked forward to. I then started to print off things I’d need for displays and prepare them. If you are moving classrooms, setting up your new learning environment can be challenging. There are normally some new tweaks that you may need to make so make sure you get all the display information you need first. Some schools create model classrooms as a guide which is really helpful. My teacher hacks may help…
I also really loved meeting my new class. I enjoyed getting to know all the new characters and them getting to know me as well. Transitions are going to be very different this year. Some schools are planning to do them in the last few days of the school year, creating new bubbles for September. Children can meet their new teacher and teaching assistants and begin to develop their relationships with them. Building trust is so important as children learn more when they feel safe. Spend time getting to know each and every child individually. Plan fun team building activities to develop class relationships. Talk about what is important to them and make them feel like valued members of the class. Learn about their interests and what they like/dislike. Tell them about you as well. The more they get to know and trust you the better.
I had a ‘family display’ in every classroom which children could add photos too. I also had a ‘sharing board’ where children added their achievements from home to. All of these things made the culture and climate just right and children felt safe and comfortable, which then led to gains in learning. I dedicated a little time every day to team building to make sure class team remained connected and strong. Some teachers move up with their class which I think can be a good idea. I secretly has a little cry after sending y last class off to their new teacher as I really loved the children.
One thing I can recommend is reading a good book over the summer holidays. I have read many pedagogical texts that have impacted positively on my teaching practise and given me powerful teacher knowledge. Choose your book depending on what you are interested in. Here are a few that I have read and enjoyed…
With all of this going on, it is important to have a bit of ‘me time’ so make sure you plan in some relaxation away from anything that requires you to think. Go for a walk, watch your favourite TV series, spend time with friends, whatever you like but step away from the laptop and relax.