Send your students a year-end greeting that acknowledges their accomplishments and acknowledges their learning.
It is worthwhile for us to spend our time on it. It is important to recognize that our time is valuable and that the children we teach are our most valuable assets. Don’t let the year pass without taking time to reflect on the lessons learned and the memories made. Take advantage of the time you have together.
We enjoy hearing applause after a race. Graduation is a watershed moment in a child’s life. Each school year should come to a close with a sense of anticipation. It should be an exhilarating experience. Teachers must exercise caution so that the bell does not ring and leave the students wondering what has happened. The end-of-year celebrations should be a time for reflection, celebration, and review of the year’s accomplishments. Here are eight ideas to make it a memorable experience.
1. MAKE A TOP 10 LIST
Dave Burgess a suggestion was made that students create a Top 10 list of the things they have learned in school Consider the late-night host David Letterman. Inquire with them about the most memorable learning experiences they had while working with us. Then throw a party where everyone can come and share their lists.
2. HOST A “CELEBRATION of LEARNING” FINAL EXAM
The story of a college professor who ensured that his students passed their final exams by setting up a room full of food, decorations, and the promise of a celebration was shared with me. The experiment was carried out in a professorial manner by the researcher. The students in the celebratory class performed better on their final exams than the rest of the class. Even though we may schedule our parties on a different day than the final exam date, it is clear that students are learning and celebrating when they sit for the final exam.
3. DON’T PACKAGE UP TOO SOON
Angela Watson reaffirmed to me recently that decorations shouldn’t be taken down too quickly. It sends the wrong message. We can celebrate with our kids when we do. Make it a party! (Think slam-dunk basketball.)
4. THE BOTTLE OF DREAMS
This is the one I’m currently working on, adapting John Berray’s original idea. The following is what John says: “I bring water bottles, one for each student.” Each student is instructed to take a bottle of water and open the cap with his or her fingers. It is widely assumed that there will be a toast, and they are correct in their assumption. My farewell address includes additional thoughts and advice, and it concludes with a series of questions and requests. Because this will likely be our last conversation, I want it to be memorable as possible. “It’s a bittersweet feeling.”
5. COMPLIMENTS & KINDNESS
This year’s most significant end-of-year event occurred in my fourth-grade daughter’s fourth-grade class. Two weeks before the end of the school year, each student’s name was written on a separate piece of paper by the teacher. On each piece of paper, the class was circled, and students offered genuine compliments. The teacher wrote down the compliments and placed them on a piece of paper. To enhance their memories, the students cut apart the photos that had been hung on the wall throughout the year to create collages. It’s still there for my daughter, and she’s in college.
6. EXPLAIN TO YOUR STUDENTS TO CELEBRATE THE REMEMBERING
Ask your students to survey you. (See 3 Methods to Get Feedback to Improve Your Teaching.
Include a question about your most cherished childhood memories. Using the responses, create a word cloud and display it on the board after the class celebrations. You can also create your own Top 10 list based on the answers you receive (see below).
7. COMPLETED A LETTER TO YOUR STUDENTS.
Send a letter to each student in the class. Dr. Tony Kline claims that many of his students keep copies of his class letters in their possession. When a young woman returned from summer break, she asked for another copy of his class letters because her younger brother had spilled soda on them. Tony laminates the letters to make them “brother proof.”
8. PLAN A OSCARS EVENT
Another Dave Burgess Idea.
Allow the red carpet to begin to roll. The final event should be planned by the students. Consider the possibility of an awards ceremony akin to the Academy Awards, where students can present awards for the most outstanding books, best student presentations, and most memorable classroom moments. Then their classmates can respond to them with acceptance speeches in the style of the Academy Awards. You have the option to dress up! It’s tremendously enjoyable!