Finishing the year strong

I want to highlight that it’s okay to feel like the end of this interrupted school year is a more emotional experience than normal. This isn’t the end we imagined. This isn’t the way we wanted to say goodbye. Typically, the end of the year can feel bittersweet and bring on feelings of nostalgia. This year feeling may be magnified as our normal end of year routines are disrupted because of school closures. It is good to be present in the feelings of sadness, loss, and uncertainty and help each other and our students through this process as well.

Some districts have already wrapped up the end of the school year while others are just about to wrap up. Below are a few examples of how to finish the year strong. (If you’ve already wrapped up for the year think about how you might send a message via social media or in the mail to your students to send them a positive message going into summer).

Final Virtual Meeting. Whether you are meeting with your students on a daily, weekly, or by appointment scenario think about how you can do a final wrap-up. For those students that have been harder to connect with you might consider using good old fashion phone calls and posted mail to let them know that you’re wanting to connect one last time. Some suggestions would be to host a team meeting or individual meetings via video conferencing.

Create a theme. Does your classroom already have a theme from the year that you can continue with? If not, get creative. Below are a few ideas.

  • Summer camp out: Students can dress in camping gear, set up a tent, lay in a sleeping bag, sit in a camp chair in their living room or by their outdoor patio fire. Suggest students come to the meeting with their favorite camping treat (Did you know you can make microwave s’mores) and either share a memory from a school camp trip or a family camp trip.

  • Luau party: Students can dress for a luau by making or wearing a lei, putting on their sunglasses making a tropical smoothie or a fruit and cheese kabobs to snack on. As part of the meeting you could watch a video on hula dancing and then ask students to show of their best moves.

  • Beach party: Students can throw on their bathing or beach gear (don’t forget to put on sunscreen and sun glasses), sit on a towel or put their feet in a pool or bucket of water. Ask students to make their favorite snack for when they go to the beach

Reminisce. There are so many normal routines we are missing this year. Allow for a time to reflect. Plan for this meeting and give students a set of prompts you would like to discuss. Be prepared to share as well.

  • If your school normally does some sort of end of year activity, maybe a field day, or a camp out, or a water day have students reminisce about past years.

  • Over the last year what was something you learned from our time together?

  • What regulations strategies did you learn that will help you over the summer?

  • What was most memorable thing about our class this year?

  • I enjoyed learning about ____________.

  • My most challenging moment this year was __________.

  • If you could tell a student who will be in my class next year what they will learn, what would you say?

  • One thing I learned about myself was ______________.

  • What is one thing you liked from class this year that you want to share with your class next year?

  • I used to think______________ but now I think______________.

Other connection opportunities. As we close out classrooms and say goodbye for the summer there are still ways to connect and create connection over the summer.

  • If you still have students returning to gather their belongings, consider putting a special note in their desks or lockers for them to take home and read over the summer. If students aren’t returning consider sending a postcard, a letter, or an email to your students of what you wish for them over the summer.

  • Create a video and post it to social. This is something students can watch over and over again over the summer. You can even include your students in the fun and they can showcase a talent or send a positive message. There are many free applications to piece together video clips.

  • Connect over the summer via social. Create an account specifically for your students. Email them a list of items to do over the summer and then they can report back over the summer to you. You can turn this into a bingo board or a challenge where you assign points. Some examples are below.

o Play in the sprinkler

o Read a book

o Build a sandcastle or blanket fort

o Invent a new recipe or drink

o Clean out your space and donate usable items

o Learn something new today

o Go outside and watch the birds in the morning

o Do a cartwheel

o Try some ice cream you may not like

o Play a card or board game

o Cloud watch

o Tell someone a joke

o Make lunch for someone

o Count how many swings are at _________park

o Plan a family/friend walk

o Take a nap

o Mail a letter to a family member or email

o Pick up trash in your neighborhood

o Color a picture for your mail carrier

o Drink 8 glasses of water

o Go on a picnic

o Write a poem

o When out and about say hi to a stranger

o Tell a friend why you appreciate them

o Ride on wheels (skateboard, bike, rollerblades, scooter, etc)

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