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5 Ways to Make it Through the Final Stretch

April 12, 2012

Photo by Laura Slotkoff

By Tiffany Montano, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Sarah T. Reed High School

Think back to high school.  Do you remember when spring finally came around?  Do you remember the overwhelming urge to just check out from your responsibilities?  This is the point that our students are reaching now.  As it turns out, serving in a high school also breeds similar feelings to when we actually were in high school – we are exhausted too.

City Year is tough.  Just like anything else, it only gets tougher as you get closer to the finish line.  That’s why I have decided to make a list of the survival strategies that I have observed in not only my fellow corps members, but also myself:

  1.  Start a countdown.  We have a countdown on the chalkboard in our classroom.  As of today, it reads: “23 days left at school” and “28 days until graduation.”  When we are frustrated, we can refer to the board and find solace in the fact that we’re almost there.  At the same time, this countdown reminds us of how little time we have left with our students, enabling us to appreciate our time more.
  2. Eat your lunch outside.  The weather is beautiful but you spend every weekday from sun up to sun down indoors.  You’re going to resent that.  Even though you can’t spend the whole day outside, you can still enjoy and appreciate its beauty!  You have half an hour to yourself – make it count.
  3. Find humor in your misery.  There is no better way to get through tough times than humor.  When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins that actually make you happier.  It’s one of those “fake it ‘til you make it” kind of situations.  Once you laugh about it, you’ll realize that it really isn’t that bad anyway.
  4. Treat yourself to something nice.  This can take form in any way that you see fit: a chocolate bar, a bubble bath, dinner with friends, etc.  We don’t have a lot of money so sometimes we need to get creative.  For example, Easter candy is on sale and instead of going out to dinner, organize a picnic.
  5. Sit down with one of your favorite students and imagine this was your last day with them.  This is the toughest strategy to master but it is also the most effective.  You might hesitate to jump into it right away because, as you can imagine, it makes you really sad!  We love our kids and we can’t imagine life without them.  Maybe you remember when I wrote about a student transferring in January; this was a traumatic event for me.  At the same time, her leaving enabled me to appreciate my time with my students even more.  This is what we need to do in our final days as City Year corps members.  Harness your sadness and your confusion for what life will be like without your kids and transform those feelings into motivation to keep going strong.
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