Saying Goodbye to a Difficult School Year: 5 Super Effective Ways to Put the Year Behind You and Prepare for the Next

Thursday, May 31, 2018 / 2 comments

Saying Goodbye to a Difficult School Year: 5 Super Effective Ways to Put the Year Behind You and Prepare for the Next

Teachers often find the last few days of school to be bittersweet. Are we eager for the break? Of course! But also just a bit sad to see the school year end. It's just the way we are...

...But what happens when we don't feel sad to say goodbye? What if what we actually feel on the last day of school is... reliefRelief that a particularly challenging, difficult school year is finally over.  

Most teaching programs don't prepare us for the years that leave us wondering if we made the right choice, if teaching is truly our calling...and without support, our summers can be spent worrying instead of relaxing. 

With that in mind, here are 5 super effective ways to say goodbye to a stressful school year and begin enjoying your well-earned break!

Remember You're Not Alone

It sounds cliche. But when it comes to teaching, it really isn't. There just isn't a lot of places where a teacher can talk about having a challenging school year without facing judgement or recrimination. People who have never taught are quick to tell teachers who are tired that they are burned out or should retire if they aren't "in it for the kids" anymore and this view can make us hide our feelings rather than deal with them. 

But you're not alone. Every teacher has good years. And every teacher has years that are challenging. Difficult. Lonely. Frustrating. Really really hard. And being glad that these years end does not make you a bad teacher!

Choose Not to Place Blame

As teachers, we tend to be natural people-pleasers. We care about our students, we care about our fellow teachers, we care. Professionally. For a living. So when we find ourselves at the end of a challenging school year it can be hard not to feel like we've done something wrong. As summer starts, take a breath and make peace with the year. It happened. It wasn't the best year of teaching you will ever have. It might not be the worst (sad, but true). Nothing will be gained by blaming yourself. 

Nothing will be gained by wasting your time blaming others either, students, administrators, parents, colleagues. Could they all have played a role? Sure. But stewing about it won't help you move on.

Put it Away for Awhile

Emotions always run highest during or right after an experience, so give yourself the gift of distance. Make a conscious effort not to think about the past school year until several weeks of summer have gone by. It's not going to change how the year went, but the challenges you faced will likely look a little bit less awful while sitting someplace warm and drinking something with an umbrella in it. ;)

Express Yourself and Reflect

Once you've gotten some distance (and some Vitamin D!), take some time to really reflect on what happened over the course of the year. 

Were the problems beyond your control? Give yourself permission to let them go and look ahead with hope and optimism. 

Were they problems you think you could avoid in the future with planning or different choices? Instead of dwelling on what mistakes you may have made, start planning for how you're going to ensure they won't happen again.

Were the problems with administration, colleagues, or others? Ask yourself the tough questions about whether or not you can continue working in that environment. These tough choices are best made when you're calm and relaxed. Can't move to a different job? Spend some time reading up on how best to deal with challenging coworkers/work environments.

Plan for Next Year With Optimism

As teachers, we all are aware of how important breaks can be for recharging and being emotionally and mentally ready to face a new school year. We also know, however, that we're teachers...and sometime during those weeks off we're going to start planning. As you do, be conscious of doing so positively. One of the greatest aspects of being a teacher is that we do get to "start over" each year. Celebrate that aspect of our profession by planning with optimism and hope.

A rough school year can shake a good teacher to their core. I hope that if this school year was like that for you this summer can be a relaxing and healing one!

Have you survived a rough year and have other tips to share? Let me know in the comments!

Saying Goodbye to a Difficult School Year: 5 Super Effective Ways to Put the Year Behind You and Prepare for the Next

Saying Goodbye to a Difficult School Year: 5 Super Effective Ways to Put the Year Behind You and Prepare for the Next


  1. Thank you for this! It’s exactly what I needed to hear after a rough year. I’m going to take your advice and stop thinking about it for a while. Then, when I’m feeling better, start planning for the next year with a positive perspective.

    1. This was one of the most challenging years I've had as an educator, so I hear ya! I'm hoping to take some of my own advice and stop thinking about it too! :) Good luck!


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