5 Tips to Help School Leaders Finish the Year Strong

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

5 Tips to Help School Leaders Finish the Year Strong

Let’s be honest. The last few weeks of the school year can be tough. It seems like every single event, from field trips to awards ceremonies, was saved for the end of May and the beginning of June. Parents whom you couldn’t get ahold of for the last nine months are all of a sudden calling twice a day, making sure their kid will pass. Fifth graders can’t wait to move to sixth grade; eighth graders are itching for high school. Seniors checked out a long time ago. This time of year can be hectic, exhausting, and stressful for teachers and school leaders. Here are five tips to help you and your staff finish strong and end the school year with enough energy left to enjoy the summer.

1. Remember: You’ve been here before and survived.

Gif of a man quickly typing on a keyboard. -- finish strong

This is the time of year when everything is due: observations, data presentations, final evals, staffing plans. It often feels like there is no way you’re going to get it all finished. But that’s when you need to remember that you’ve completed all of this work before and it will be no different this time. Sure, you may have some long nights ahead. Yes, you may have to stay home while your family goes to see Solo. And maybe you’re going to be a little sleepy those last couple of days. But you’re going make it, just like you always have.

2. Cut your staff some slack.Gif of a man saying "I forgive you."

Remember that, like you, students and staff are also busy and tired. Staff are often going to the same evening events you are—in addition to attending their own children’s events. They might be a little late one day or forget to turn something in the day it was due. Give them a pass. Let them know that you’re tired too and encourage them to hang in there. Reassure them that they will make it to the end of the year successfully and that you have their back.

3. Treat yourself and don’t feel bad about it.Gif of the Simpsons characters dancing in the car -- finish strong

During this final stretch, you might not have time to prepare dinner. This might mean grabbing fast food four times in one week. It may not be as healthy, and you might spend a little more money than usual, but this is temporary. Indulging a little right now is necessary for you to get things done. There’s nothing wrong with paying the neighbor’s kid to mow your lawn. Get a massage, soak in a hot tub, or relax in the sauna. Your body will thank you later. Bottom line, treat yourself and don’t feel guilty as you head toward the finish line.

4. Think about what was accomplished this year.

Gif of a man mentally making a realization.

It’s tempting to look back and reflect on the things that you didn’t accomplish this year. However, you can also choose to focus on and remind yourself of everything that went well. Of course you want to improve and be better next year. That’s what your summer retreats and school improvement team meetings are for. The last few weeks of school are the time to celebrate the positive strides you, your staff, and students made. Dwelling on the what-ifs in these final weeks only serves to bring negativity into a time that should be a celebration. Instead, think about growth and achievements, which will give you much-needed energy to get to the end of the year.

5. Give yourself something to look forward to.Gif of a wave crashing on the ocean -- finish strong


There’s no easy way to say it, but there are times in the last weeks of the school year that are just not fun. Whether it’s delivering a pink slip or telling some students they will not graduate, the worst parts of this job can surface right now. Getting through them without losing it is not always easy. Sometimes the best thing to do is look forward to what you’re going to do this summer. It doesn’t need to be big, and it doesn’t need to be expensive. Maybe it’s relaxing at your local cafe. Or maybe binge-watching Game of Thrones while eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. When times get hectic, allow yourself to look ahead for a moment. The hope for a little relaxation, even if it’s just a time of quiet when everyone else is out of the building, can give you the boost you need to finish strong.

You can do it.

Join the conversation on school leadership in our Facebook group at Principal Life.