The Final Countdown: A Different ‘End of the Year’ Mentality

People find solace in countdowns.  They are a clear marker to when something is coming to an end, and they offer hope and closure to so many around the world.

Teachers often find themselves counting down throughout the year.  Whether it is the amount of days that remain until summer break or simply the number of papers they have left to grade, teachers seem to love countdowns. The challenge is being able view them as an opportunity to grow rather than just a means to an end.

View Your ‘Countdowns’ In Life Differently

We often use countdowns in our culture to signify the end of something. They help us to focus on a task at hand and can show us the light at the end of the tunnel. We often believe that our perceptions of these countdowns are positive because we literally get excited when things are about to conclude. The problem with this mentality is that it can actually bring about negative emotions even though we don’t realize it.

Think about it…

When something that we love comes to a close, we tend to have emotions like sadness, anger, depression or even loss.  For example, when we only have a few more hours before a deadline, we become stressed out and anxious. When there are only ten seconds left in a championship game and our favorite team is losing, our nerves shoot through the roof. Or something as simple as a school year coming to a close, can cause us to become lazy or unmotivated.  Each countdown we face in our lives has the possibility to bring negativity if we aren’t careful.

Imagine what would happen if we viewed these countdowns through a different lens. Imagine if we used them as a source of positive thinking rather than negative, and moved forward at the conclusion instead of stopping progress simply because time tells us to.  It’s time to view our countdowns in life as a positive rather than a negative. It’s time to take something that most people look at as an end, and turn it into a new beginning instead.

Two Ways To Countdown to the Positive

Countdown like it’s New Years Eve

On New Year’s Eve the entire world takes a moment to reflect on, and celebrate, a year’s worth of life. We count down with excitement, not because the year is ending, but rather because a new year is beginning, and we have an opportunity to start with a clean slate.  People make new year’s resolutions in order to improve themselves, and they plan on making the year to come even better than the previous one.

When it gets close to the end of the school year, every teacher knows the exact amount of days left until summer break. In many cases, we are more excited than the students! The key to growth, however, is all in how we view the last day. 

Is it simply an end that marks the beginning of summer, or is it a new beginning that offers unimaginable possibilities for the future?  Instead of counting down to the year ending, countdown toward a fresh new start. Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve done this year and how to make it even better in the future.


Try This Action Step:

Create a ‘Summer Resolution’ that you will stick to in order to improve yourself for the upcoming school year.  Think about all the possibilities available to you in the summer to better yourself and take action by choosing one.  Try to attend a conference, take a class, collaborate with fellow teachers on a project, listen to a podcast (try out Teachonomy Talks) or simply set up a schedule that balances rest with preparation for the new year. 

Whatever you do, realize that the end of this school year can serve as a staring point for an even better YOU that can impact so many of your students in the future!


Countdown like a NASA launch

Some of the most famous countdowns in history have come from NASA. The world watches and counts down with anticipation when a launch is announced. The reason why NASA countdowns are so intriguing is because of what they signify.  They are counting down, not to an end, but rather to a bright and unknown opportunity that can possibly change the world for the better.

Just like NASA, teachers are working toward an ongoing goal. We are constantly preparing during the year and making discoveries that help us advance in our practice. All of these insights can lead us to go even further after our ‘last day’ if understand what the countdown truly signifies.  By adopting a NASA mindset at the end of the year, we will begin to discover new ideas and create opportunities that can change the way we teach, as well as the way we impact our students in the future. 


Try This Action Step:

Take the time to ‘LAUNCH’ something!  Summer is the perfect time to create new materials or even share your thoughts with the world.  Choose one thing and commit to planning it’s ‘launch!’ Think about how many fellow teachers you can help, how much time you will save, or how much YOU will grow, if you take the time to tap into your creativity.

Try creating a blog to share your ideas, put together a high interest unit to use during the year or step out of your comfort zone and ‘launch’ your professional social media presence to the world.  Lose your fear and LAUNCH your potential!

Whatever you do, realize that your wisdom and knowledge is valuable, and taking advantage of moving forward after the countdown finishes will enable YOU to make an even greater impact in the year to come.


QUESTION: What are some other positive ways we can view the end of the school year?  Leave a comment by CLICKING HERE!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Josephine Dublin

    Thanks Chuck for such a timely and insightful post. I almost felt that you were addressing me directly. You see, I am about to conclude my “official” teaching career of forty-two years.

    Recently, I have been reflecting on my contribution and looked on these wonderful years with mixed emotions; but you have framed it in such apt words. This is what I have been feeling – The New Year’s Eve and NASA Launch, particularly as I mull over the many expressions of parents, colleagues and former and current students who request that I extend my active service for some time. Usually a bit of regret comes over me but after reading your post, I am heartened that I can still contribute in a “generative” way. I have, in recent times been mentoring colleagues and now have realized that this has been the pad for my “launch”! I think I am now more at peace recognizing that I can now map my post retirement plans in which, as I reminded some colleagues, I am not ending my career but transitioning.

    In recent times, I have been integrating technology in my teaching and school administration and I have found a new area of service, assisting fledgling teachers in this new realm.

    Thank you Chuck for articulating so concisely my feelings about my retirement – New Year’s Eve and my NASA Launch!