When the school year starts winding down, we start having less and less time for core content. So let’s talk about how you can still use that time wisely.
Our days are filled with end of the year assemblies, field days, class parties, you name it. I might be the only teacher that actually enjoys this hectic last minute planning and fun at the end of the year. While it is stressful more most, I try to take it as my last few chances to have fun with my students and enjoy THEM.
Here are some tips for winding down your school year:
Take the time to appreciate how far they’ve come
Even though we may be giving tests that will show us the data that backs up their growth, take the time to talk to them. Listen to their stories. Ask them questions about their year. It is almost guaranteed that when you look back at that child from the beginning of the year, it will seem like a totally different kiddo. I try to do this will all of my students. I just listen to them and appreciate our year together and how hard that student has worked.
You know I am all about celebrating our students for little victories. At the end of the year I like to make it a big deal. Although we had our Kindergarten graduation and passed out awards, I also liked to make my own to give students. I like to use these:
These are perfect for a quick way to recognize each student for their own uniqueness! I like to have fun categories like most improved handwriting, being the most compassionate, being the best helper. You can really do ANYTHING! The students love it too.
Give the kids tasks that help YOU
There was something about the end of the year that made all of my students always want to help me. Each year we are required to completely take EVERYTHING down and pack up our entire room. We HAD to start throughout the day or, believe me, it would never get done since we only have ONE teacher workday (which is mainly used to complete the paperwork). Any day that we had an assembly, or something scheduled to make it difficult to start and complete an entire lesson, I would set out learning centers. Then I would give the students the option to help me with packing an area up. I never made it mandatory because it isn’t their job of course! I always had at least 5 students that wanted to help me though!
Give tasks like:
– Putting the puzzles all together to make sure the pieces aren’t jumbled in another box. That way, next year, you don’t have to check. They are ready to go!
– Passing out end of the year papers to their peers.
– Sort ANYTHING that needs to be sorted! My kids loved doing that!
– Take small items off the wall.
– Throwing away the items you don’t need anymore
Seriously, I say if a kid can do the task, let them help you! I always took this as a time to talk to them too (my first point!). I loved that time with my kiddos.
Celebrate being a family
I am extremely serious and passionate about promoting the fact that our class is a family. This goes hand in hand with my behavior management plan and it works so well. All year we have treated each other like family and it is a sad, sad thing to see it come to a close ESPECIALLY if you have an AMAZING group of students.
I like to have a little class party at the end of the year and I dedicate my entire day to the students and making it about them. I pass out their awards and I read our final class project:
About a week before I need to laminate this book, I send home the assignment. Students write a paragraph about their FAVORITE thing they learned in Kindergarten. Then on another page they draw about it. When it is all put together, it makes the most wonderful book. I laminate it, and we all read it together. It ALWAYS brings me to tears because I am just soooooo proud of my kiddos.
We have our party and I make sure to visit and sit with each table. I praise them and celebrate them. While we teachers work hard, we often forget that they do too, even if it may not seem like it at times.
Our day ends with me reading Oh, the Places You Will Go
And I will 100% admit I usually start sobbing when I get to the line “Kid, you will move mountains.”
Because it is true.
I remind them that, to me, they will always be my family.
Send thank you notes
I would send thank you notes home to the parents that went out of their way to help me, or our class throughout the year. At my school, it was very uncommon to have parental help so when I did, I appreciated it more than they knew. I made SURE to let them know that.
Finish with a happy heart
Maybe you are proud of the year you had. Maybe you had a rough year and you are just so glad it is over and done with. Whatever the situation, smile because it is over (good or bad).
You made a difference, you loved your students, and you worked your butt off. Now it is time to relax and get some “you” time.
Vol. 3 – Behavior Chart or No Behavior Chart?
Vol. 4 – Tips for returning from Spring Break
Vol. 5 – Aromatherapy for Behavior
Vol. 7 – Managing Fire and Lock-down Drills
Vol. 9 – Brain Breaks
Vol. 10 – Sharing in the Classroom