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Closing a Memorable School Year

People shape their memories of events by how they end, so it is important to think about how you want to end this year with your students. It is a time of year filled with mixed emotions for both teachers and students. You’ve seen some remarkable student growth, and if you are like most teachers, there are a few among your flock who you were not able to reach as well as you had hoped. You’ve built a connected community, and it is hard to imagine not learning and being together every day in the safe structure that is your classroom. Many students appreciate the rhythm and routine of school and face uncertain schedules over the summer. Others have big plans, but they are all moving on from this unique experience. What do you do to help with the school to summer transition? Here are a few ideas:

  • Stick to routines. It is tempting to relax routines at the end of school. In this time of transition your students need them more than ever. This is especially true for students who struggle to self-regulate. Even on big days, like field days, make sure the basic routines are in place. Avoid counting down, and foucs on being present and enjoying each day.
  • Focus on connection. Use “I notice” statements or post it notes to remind your students that you still care about them.
  • Record memories. You can do this with a class scrapbook where everyone has a page to record a memory like favorite project, new friends, or artwork.
  • Read, read read. Help your students make lists of their favorite books for each other. Make sure that every family knows how to find the public library over the summer. Find an engaging book to read aloud to your class the last month of school.
  • Reflect. Have students write or draw about the school year. Topics might include: what important events happened this year, classmates and friendship, favorite learnings, and goals for the new school year.
  • Share feelings. Use a class meeting to have each student share one or two feeling words about the school year ending.
  • Capture faces and connections. Make a copy of the class picture for each student and have them attach it to a piece of construction paper. Give students time to sign each others paper and write compliments or kind notes.
  • Remember favorite moments: Do the ball of yarn activity with your students. Have each student think of one of their favorite times of the school year. Stand or sit in a circle. Share one of your memories and toss the ball of yarn to a student while holding on to the end of the yarn. That student shares their memory and gently tosses the yarn to another student while holding on to the yarn. At the end, you’ll have a giant web of memories that connect you. Hint: Have everyone gently lay their yarn down and have one student carefully re-roll the ball.