Report cards are due, cumulative folders need sorting, and kids are stir-crazy, watching the windows with envy. So before your count-down is up, take a moment to consider these 10 ways to finish the school year strong!
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Everyone loves a class party (even high school seniors, believe us). So to save on cost, host a class party focused on that: your class. Compile all of those hasty iPhone photos you took throughout the year into one end-of-year-slideshow. Software like iMovie make it easier than ever to let students see themselves on the big screen. Ask students or parents to chip in on food and drinks — popcorn is a tasty, inexpensive snack that’s easy to clean up. Plus, popcorn goes great with a movie, especially when your students are the stars.
The end of the year is the best time to clean for the summer. So divide your classroom into sections and choose a different section to clean every day, that way the task doesn’t feel so overwhelming. In those sections, make a choice of what needs to be destroyed (papers with names and personal information, tests, etc.) and what could potentially be donated to a student, another teacher, or another school. (Did you really use that stack of Anne of Green Gables books this year? No. You didn’t.) This also is a great time to decide if there is anything to give to a student—perhaps a book inscribed by you, or a project that was never returned. You’ll feel great leaving your classroom ready for next year.
With testing completed and a (little) less pressure on your time, these final weeks are a great time to try new tools you might want to use next year. You might try a lesson from TeachersPayteachers, a lesson from KhanAcademy, or get your students exposed to computer programming at Code.org. If you aren’t already a LiveSchool user, we highly recommend checking out our behavior management app for teachers. Our trial version is free for teams of up to five teachers.
The end of the year is a great time to give out class awards. But rather than paying a premium for cheesy certificates you find at the big box stores, simply pick up a pack of paper plates and pass them out—one for each student in your class. Assign each student a classmate, ensuring that each student gets an award, and let them go to town with crayons and markers. The honors will be more creative and hilarious than you could have ever come up with on your own: ”Most likely to succeed,” “Best in Fractions,” “Gold Medal in lending out paper”—the possibilities are endless. And it’s a great time to reminisce about the year gone by.
Students of all ages love to team up against the teachers. So whether you organize a student vs. teachers kickball, frisbee, or basketball game—make it count. Let one student and one teacher MC the event, and make sure the teachers dress up to add a little fun to the game (matching sweatbands seem to do the trick). It’s sure to be an event everyone will remember.
Teachers have a tough job, that’s for sure. But parents have a lot on their shoulders too. And while teachers deserve lots of thank-yous all year round, this is a great time of year to return the favor to the parents who’ve helped your students with homework all year long. Hand-written notes go a long way to smooth over any rough edges created during the year. But if you have more than 20 students, don’t be afraid to write one letter to families, thanking them for their support.
As any teacher knows, this job would be much more difficult without the teammates on your hall. Whether it’s the teacher who always took that trouble kid under his wing, or the one who never fails to bring baked goods to the team meeting—the end of the year is a great time to thank your colleagues for making the job that much better. Some ideas? Flowers, a potted plant, or even a bag of their favorite coffee or tea can go a long way.
It only takes about 20 minutes to let your students fill one piece of paper with a letter to their future self. Seal them up in individual envelopes, and one year from now, deliver them to the next grade. The feeling a students get from that delivery from the past is one they will never forget. Some sentence starters to get them going: One year from now I hope to be… Next year, I will… Right now, I feel…
Students aren’t the only ones who need to read over the summer. So while it’s important to pass out a strong reading list (Goodreads ‘Best of’ lists are a great resource)—make sure to pick out a few books for yourself over the summer, too. We recommend Danny Hill’s “The Power of the ICU,” as well as his new work, “Brick House.” Or, “How Children Succeed,” by Paul Tough. Or of course—you could always just read our blog.
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School-wide behavior management can be tough to implment, but can change the trajectory of a school. What level would you rank your school?