No matter how dreamy or difficult the school year has been, you are weary, worn down, and likely running out of patience. Ending the school year strong feels like a pipe dream. But don’t let the prospect of sleeping in and not dealing with daily discipline issues overshadow the last moments you have to create a positive influence in your classroom.
The way we end our school year can have as much impact as to how we started it. Here are some ways to leave your students well:
Try not to tune your students out in those last weeks as you wrap up your classroom and run the marathon that is your end-of-year checklist. For the most part, your kiddos are about as excited as you are for summer, and they probably want to talk about it. But some of them may be dreading a slow, dull summer. Either way, you might be the only adult who listens to them, and they are about to head into a season without the reliability and regularity of a school schedule. Or a grown-up who cares.
Thank your students.
Thanking your students can leave a huge impression on them. I would venture to say this is especially true with your most difficult classes, the ones you’ve struggled with all year long. If you can find a silver lining and show them how they’ve helped you in some way, they will be floored. Think of specific ways your class(es) have impacted you positively this year, and tell them about it. Did they challenge you in good ways? Make you laugh daily? (Or politely laugh at your “teacher jokes”?) Were they flexible? Did they tackle challenges like champs? Did they find a way to move past difficult moments together? Were they helpful and dependable?
Find simple ways to make it special.
There are many ways to make the end of the school year special. It could be as simple as signing the kids’ yearbooks. Or maybe you want to create a memory students can hang on to as they say goodbye.
Our last day tradition at a middle school where I taught was for all the teachers to line up outside to wave goodbye as the buses pulled out for the final time. It was a sweet send-off and a time for us to exhale a bit before packing up our teacher bags and heading into that blissful first day of summer.
One of my teacher besties used to do end-of-year paper plate awards, where she would write out a personal award for each student. The kids adored her for this (and I did, too!) I know this is a tall order for many of you due to a high student load. But here’s a roundup of free TPT printables/ideas that can save you tons of time if you’re up for it. You can find unique ideas, like Out of My Shell, Leader of the Pack, Future Scientist, etc.
I’ve known teachers who will write personal letters at the end of each school year. It’s time-consuming but extremely impactful to those students who may think nobody cares.
Survey your students.
Surveying your students at the end of the school year shows them that you value their opinion about what happens in your classroom. One of my former administrators once wisely advised me to always ignore the “outliers” – those kids who just have it in for you for whatever reason – and look for the overall pattern of responses. Ask questions that get to the heart of what’s important to you in the classroom. Did you come across as helpful and kind? Or is there a particular unit you want to improve? Ask specific questions! You may receive some priceless information to help you grow as a teacher! (Here are some free surveys to get you started.)
So no matter your personality type, unique classroom style, or type of year you’ve had, you can find a way to leave your students on a positive note. What’s your favorite way to send off your students each year? Comment below!
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