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Surviving and Thriving During the Last Weeks of the School Year

May 4, 2012

Now that spring has arrived in most areas of the continental United States, students and teachers alike are noticing the signs that the end of the school year is coming. From conversations with other teachers, I know that many of you have just completed some type of standardized testing. Some teachers and students may be fatigued, but it is important to make the most of all the time we have left.

What do you do now to engage student interest and ensure that high level learning continues right through the end of school? Master teachers teach to the end, just like athletes go all out all the way through the finish line.

“The race isn’t over until you cross the finish line. You’ll be surprised at how much can change in the last twenty strides.” —Jackie Dugall

Getting Ready for the Last Weeks of School

  • If you haven’t already, take time to look at what you are going to teach for the remaining time.
  • Be realistic. What can you teach WELL in the time left? (This may mean you leave something out.)
  • Plan instructional strategies and activities that will connect with your students’ interests. (Put on your thinking cap. Mix it up and make it fun for your students and yourself.)
  •  Try something different. Take a chance.
  • Differentiate.
  • Review classroom routines, procedures, and behavior expectations in order to create a safe climate for learning in your classroom.

One activity that I used in my classroom was to have students write a letter of welcome to the new students who would take their place in the coming school year. It was a good way to teach letter writing and to use technology.

As a pre-writing activity we REFLECTED on the year. How did I feel on my first day here? What should new students know about my teacher? What is the most important thing I learned this year? What skills have I gained this year? One thing you need to know to be successful in this classroom? (This information gave me useful feedback on my practice!)

We completed our rough drafts and then went to the computer lab to word process and add graphics, borders, etc. (My artistic students chose to add their own drawings by hand.) The final letter was printed in color and kept to be placed on the desks of my new students in the next year. (My Sample.)

If you have time, you might also have students write a letter of introduction to their teacher for next year. You could keep these and pass them on when students are placed in classes for the coming year.

Remember the best way to have a productive and enjoyable end of the year is to stay organized.

“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” – Lee Iacocca

  • Make general plans through the end of the year.
  • Make specific plans for each week and have copies and materials ready on Monday morning or better yet Friday afternoon.
  • Keep your calendar current and parents informed. We know there are field trips, assemblies, concerts, and a myriad of end of the year events.
  • Make a list of due dates for yourself and your students.
  • Find time for a walk or a run. Use exercise to manage stress and good nutrition to stay well and healthy.
  • Plan time for reflection for your students and yourself.

Don’t forget to not only make the most of your time left, but to enjoy it. Smile. Positivity is infectious.

If you have an idea for the End of the Year, please share.

Below are some good ideas for your classroom.

Enjoy.

Linda C.

Resources

Wrap Up the School year with a Strong Finish – Scholastic

Wrapping Up the School Year – Scholastic

End the School Year on a High Note

Bring the School Year to a Strong Close – The Responsive Classroom

Get Outside: School Gardens – Edutopia

Virtual Field Trips – Edutopia

Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement

Surviving to Thriving (Last Year’s Blog)

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