I want all teachers to have long enough careers to see the fruits of their labor. I feel so sad when someone moves out of education before s/he gets to experience a student coming back to visit them with the proof that there was something special in that classroom relationship which mattered to that student.
If you are in education very long you will also have the bad years: a difficult colleague, an unexpected teaching assignment, the rough group of kids, maybe a parent or two who seem to notice only shortcomings.
And at the end of that year, you need a unique summer regimen
You need some extra time to let the emotions pent-up from this school year to flow out of you. No one telling you to “get over it” is helping you to work through the stress which took maybe months to build up. Journaling, in private-let’s keep this off the Internet friend, and talking it out with another educator who has had a rough year in his/her past can help. Just like you give people who have lost a loved one time to grieve, you need to grieve a year where you lost a chance to do your best. Grieve for the students you did not reach, the parents who you were not able to please, or any mistakes you made. This requires more time than Memorial Day weekend.
I wonder if teachers who resign at the end of the year do so out of emotion? Do any of them regret not allowing themselves time to decompress from the school year? Did education lose a gem because we did not teach educators self-care?
Check out this post on Why You Haven’t Resigned from Teaching
Once you feel the stress has left your body, but while the school year still feels recent, this is the time to analyze. It is important for you to categorize issues from the year into those which you had control over and those issues you did not have control over.
The place to start is with issues you controlled. This will give you momentum and a sense of control to start your analysis. Everyone has room to improve. So do not count your self-evaluation as a continuation of a tough year, but an exit interview with yourself.
The issues you did not control are easier to list. It is a good idea to already identify how you can do better in the future to soften your view of how others might have done better by you. If there are lessons, come up with a way to implement them for next year or talk with your administrator to see how they could be systematically addressed.
And you should prepare to relaunch strong in the Fall. Because education is not for the faint of heart, thin skinned, or those that thrive only on positive feedback from those outside their classroom. And we all know the hard years, but just like you didn’t see this one coming you never know when you are starting one of those magical, wonderful, career-fulfilling years. The truth is, if you are hurt by not having a great school year you care. And if you care you can still make a difference. Education needs more of that. So do not let one year get you down, the resilience of educators is endless. If you structure your summer break to grieve, analyze, and plan your comeback you might show up stronger than ever!