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End of the year stresses include:
- finishing the last unit on time
- working around mandatory school wide activities (e.g., EQAO testing, assemblies)
- coordinating CPT (culminating performance task) in class work periods
- prepping students for exams)
Never-mind keeping track of and hunting down:
- late or missing assignments
- ensuring students who miss days, due to vacation or illness, are accommodated
This is especially stressful at the end of January, as high school teachers are doing all this coordinating, while marking and prepping for second semester.
Here are my 3 tips for getting through this transition between semesters with minimal stress:
1. Keep all work together
I have “misplaced” student work on occasion, during the end of year hussel and bussel, never permanently, but it takes time to search for misplaced work. Overtime I have developed the following systems:
With my applied classes I have students use file folder portfolios, that we keep in a bin during the term (I especially like this bin as it has a lid with a handle and storage for writing supplies so it’s easy to move from room to room), this way all their notes and supplies are all in one place.
After each unit we organize all notes and assessments, create a table of contents and students keep them in their binders (or I keep them to be returned at exam time). This is especially helpful at the end of the year to keep track of where everyone is in the process work and avoids “missing” assignments.
For the academics classes I have a 3 level tray on my desk (one level for each period) and a different color file folder for each assignment. As students hand in work I place it in the appropriate folder and check their names off on the class list stapled to the front. This allows me to quickly check and then address my concerns regarding missing assignments with specific students.
2. Strategically Plan Your Assessments
It is essential to plan out your semester so that you give your students time to complete work and spread out your assessments/marking.
I like to begin the semester by looking at the board and school calendars to ensure that I am aware of disruptions ahead of time e.g. assemblies, holidays, professional development days. I outline these interruptions on a one page semester calendar (here is a free Feb-June 2020 calendar or an editable calendar for a small fee from my TPT store). I then plan out the units and assessments around these interruptions. I strategically plan out assessments (with an eye to marking) across all of my classes and keeping in mind that CPTs (culminating performance task) and exams will all come in around the same time.
Since I use an editable version of the calendar, I can type in the board and school events, holidays etc., save a copy and use a different version to plan out each of my course. I print out a copy to for reference and tape it to my desk. I also save a student copy (deleting anything that is not set in stone) and hand it out to students on the first day, along with the course outline. They place it in their binder and use it to write and keep track due dates. I try to save paper so will often print a student binder table of contents on the back (allowing students, and me, to refer to/find specific notes quickly).
3. Blended Learning
One of the best things I ever did was incorporate elearning into my teaching to help me and my students stay organized. I use Brightspace D2L (ministry provided) which allows for announcements, calendar, email, upload of content and assignments.
There are tons of online resources and apps that do similar things, such as Google Classroom or the Remind app, so you can find the one(s) that work best for you.
An online platform has helped with exam review as I can do a quick overview of the exam, weeks ahead of time, and put material up online allowing students to start studying and reducing the rush at the end of the term.
Having an online element to my class has also helped with students who are absent as they are fully aware of what has been happening in my class and are able to keep up.
An online platform helps with late work as, onece they hand it in, their work is in the same assignment dropbox as everyone else’s. I can even set the dropbox to notify me of late assignments, so their assignment doesn’t get missed.
Hopefully some of these ideas will help you avoid the ptfalls of end of the year streese