Let’s face it. You are exhausted. Your students are exhausted. But you still have almost a month of school left to go. How are you going to get through it? Here are a few tips to help you not only survive, but thrive!
Plan high engagement, low prep end of the year activities.
I know, there is a strong temptation to just give your class a packet of work and make them do seatwork. But in my experience, kids are too excited at this time of year to sit still and focus on that kind of work, and I spend more time and energy dealing with off task and inappropriate behaviours than I have the energy for.
Instead, plan something that leans into their need to talk, to move, to be excited, and that needs as little direction from you as possible.
Think open ended, student led, and multi disciplinary. Give choices about what to learn, how to learn, and how to share their learning! Encourage students to choose to work alone, with partners, or in groups, and to navigate between these as needed. If you don’t already, now is a great time to try co-creating success criteria with your students.
I Am a Superstar
This might seem like a tall order, but it’s easier than it sounds. A favorite end of the year project for me was “I am a Superstar”. Students reflect on the skills and knowledge they have developed over the year and choose one where they are, or want to become, a Superstar. Then they plan a short hands on activity for the whole class related to their skill.
For example, Sarah reflected about the new skills she learned in soccer and then did a short demonstration and planned a few drills for the whole class to do. Waylon really excelled in math and shared that he thinks he might like to become an Engineer. He then planned a series of math games for the class to play.
We would do the planning over about a week, and then two kids would present a day for the last three weeks of school. Students were highly engaged by the hands-on activities their peers led, we had the opportunity to celebrate each person, and to end the year as the community of learners we set out to be at the start of the year. Every year I did this activity it looked a bit different because I involved the students in planning what it would look like. Best of all, this took very little planning on my part!
Show grace – everyone is tired and not at their best.
It’s been a long year. Be kind to yourself, be kind to your colleagues, and be kind to your students.
It might seem like your class has forgotten every routine and expectation you’ve worked so hard to develop all year. But don’t despair! Involve your students in thinking about what routines need to be continued and what you might want to modify. Maybe you can change up the morning routines, let them create a new seating plan, or even drop the spelling tests? When they feel ownership of the decisions they are much more likely to follow them!
Take lots of brain breaks!
Here are some great suggestions from other classroom teachers:
- Guess the Picture (Observation)
- Coach Corey Martin (Movement)
- Art Hub for Kids (Directed Drawing)
- Six Minute Podcast (Family Audio Drama)
Being outside is known to have calming effects on our brains, help us focus, and just improves our happiness. So get outside as often as you can. Try doing 10 minutes of silent reading, working on math problems, doing a read-out-loud. Check out our Resources pages for easy to do outside activities like a Scavenger Hunt and Visual Journals.
Take time for you and your students to reflect.
Teachers are often our own harshest critics. It took me a while to realize that reflection doesn’t mean making a list of all the things I need to improve on, but rather it can be a great opportunity to celebrate successes.
Reflection for teachers.
- When was a time this year when you felt joyful and/or inspired about the work that you do?
- What are some accomplishments you are proud of from this past school year (professionally and personally)?
- What are some goals you want to think about for next year (professionally and personally)?
- What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?
Reflection for students.
As Helyer puts it: “through reflection, students will become accomplished at recognizing that they are learning and building skills continuously” (Helyer, 2015).
- When was a time this year when you felt joyful and/or inspired about your learning?
- What did you learn this year that you want to remember?
- What are some goals you want to think about for next year (at school and elsewhere)?
Celebrate all your hard work and successes!
Memory kites are a unique and engaging way to help children record all the special events s and successes of the last year. They are fun and easy to make, are great for children who may not be keen to write, are hands-on, AND develop all sorts of pro-social skills without even trying! The sight of all those beautiful kites flying in the sky will inspire everyone who sees them. And the best part – your students will have something wonderful to take home!