Finally…The end of the year is almost here. It seems that for many students (and teachers as well), the only desired lessons are those taking place in a swimming pool. But there are certain steps you can take now to prevent the end of the year from meaning the end of learning. Think in terms of: play, plan, and complete.
First, don’t be afraid to play! Everyone is ready for a break, so it will take more energy for you to keep your classroom under control during lectures and for students to stay focused. Integrate more “fun” into your lessons to give the learning process a change of pace. For example, instead of having a quiz, test your students knowledge in a “quiz show” format. Split the children into two or three teams to compete against each other for points. They receive points by answering the questions correctly. You don’t even need to come up with the questions. Students do an excellent job of covering a subject matter if you ask them each to submit three questions on the topic they just learned. Some of the pressure is taken off of you, and your students, while your goals are still being accomplished. Here are some additional ideas:
- Give your class a fresh perspective; teach your class outdoors, in the library, or even in a school bus.
- Bring in guest speakers.
- Parents are a valuable resource; let them talk to your class.
- Introduce new media to your class
- Be your own guest speaker by dressing up as someone else.
- Have your children teach the class.
Second, remember to plan ahead for the deconstruction of your room. Everything you have put up in your room this year probably needs to be taken down. You don’t need to wait for the students to be out of the building before some of your work can begin. In fact, your students are a great resource to you. For as much disdain as they show for doing their assignments, they will show even more enthusiasm for helping you with your housekeeping and organizational tasks. One of the first things to come off your walls can be student work. This will also save pupils from having three armfuls of items to lug home on the last day of school. After that, bulletin boards outside of the classroom can come down. When removing decorations that will be used in future years (can you safely say that any of them won’t be?), the key is to organize. The last thing you want to do is haphazardly throw everything in a box that will be ignored for years and eventually thrown away because you don’t want to go through it all. The time spent to put letters and borders in a folder sufficiently labeled will be invaluable when you want to find your pre made bulletin board in later years. Here are some more ideas:
- Drop any committees whose meetings you continually dread.
- Look around for ideas for next year. If you think of great ideas, make a list and put it on top of one of your boxes.
- Don’t forget about uncompleted committee work.
- Set a date to start coming up with ideas for next fall.
- Actually dedicate a time to plan, even if that means setting aside the first half hour of each day. This will greatly reduce stress.
It is inevitable that the school year will come to a close. However that does not mean everything will be complete on its own. Bringing a sense of closure for yourself as well as your pupils at the end of the year is important. This is when students begin to count down the minutes till their last day, and teachers wonder how on earth they will be able to get everything accomplished. But don’t panic. If you get the planning done, a lot of the completion will follow. Be realistic; realize that your students can easily go into information overload (or, rather, attention-span underload) as the summer nears. And for the things you don’t get done beforehand, give your full attention to after school is out. Even with the students gone, there are numerous other distractions. Try not to get sidetracked with garrulous teachers who have already finished. And save the files and folders to clean out until you come back in the fall. Your energy level will be up, and your spirits will be high. A lot of satisfactory closure comes from the little touches, like these ideas:
- Write a thank you note to the staff and post it in the teacher’s lounge.
- Don’t forget those who have especially helped out this year. Show your gratitude with a nice note or small gift.
- Give out awards of accomplishment for having successfully completed the year.
- Meet with your closer staff friends after the close of the school year to allow everyone to unwind on informal grounds.
- Make a list of things you feel good about accomplishing this year.
- Remember to say goodbye to those who are leaving and hello to those who may be new to the school.
You know the end of the year is coming; there’s no excuse for letting it sneak up on you. With some playing and planning, this period will come with ease.