It took me years to realize that I didn’t have to spend the last few weeks of school feeling completely exhausted and “over it”. Somehow I both anticipated and dreaded the endless kickball competitions, theme celebrations, and influx of parent volunteers. It also didn’t occur to me that my students were completely capable of maintaining appropriate behavior until the very last day of the school year! So after too many years of muddling through those final days, I decided to rethink my approach. I made some very practical, yet effective changes that were good for my students – and for me! Here are five ideas that may help you as you wind down the school year:
Expect Some Things. Earn others. In an attempt to make the school year memorable, it’s not uncommon for teachers to be exceedingly generous with, well…fun! This can backfire, however. As students await one fun celebration after another, they get more and more excited, which ultimately leads to behavioral issues. Decide which activities your students can expect and which activities they need to earn, then let them know and tell them exactly what they need to do as a group to earn them. Be sure to make the earned activities as fun as the expected ones and schedule them wisely. By doing this, your students are more likely to be mindful of their behavior during those last weeks.
Continue or Revisit Class Meetings. Class meetings are as important at the end of the year as they are at the beginning. Communicate your expectations for behavior and effort each day. Also, be sure to plan discussion topics that address end of year situations. Class meetings at the end of the year are a reminder to students that they are a part of a community and their behavior affects everyone. It’s also a great opportunity for students to share their thoughts and feelings during this exciting time.
Control the Countdown. Keep countdown activities structured and purposeful! Simply making an end of the year countdown fun and exciting may cause your students to become increasingly energetic at times when they’re expected to focus on school work.
Don’t Go It Alone. It takes a village to clean a classroom at the end of the year…and students LOVE to help their teachers! (I never understood why cleaning is so fun for kids at school and not at home, but that’s another post for another day.) Instead of saving everything on your to-do list until the kids are out for summer, allow students to:
- Organize book, separating those in need of repair
- Wipe down and organize cabinets
- Organize games and game pieces
- Go through marker bins, tossing dried out markers
- Clean desks
- Sharpen pencils and prepare materials for the next class
Sprinkle in a Few Downtime Days. The end of the year doesn’t have to (or need to) be one big adrenaline rush after another. There are benefits to calm, enjoyable activities. Coloring is one example. It helps stimulate the brain and generates mindfulness in students of all ages. Download a free copy from my Summer Coloring Pages – 20 Fun, Creative Designs resource from Ford’s Board on Teachers Pay Teachers here: Free Summer Quote Coloring Page. This pages is great for your students – AND for you! I hope it inspires happy thoughts of summer and reminds you of all the fun you’re about to have in a few weeks!