The end of the year is an exciting time in the classroom. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget about the learning that should be taking place up until the last moments. There are a few strategies you can try to keep your sanity all while students remain engaged in the learning process.
Stick with Your Established Routines Through the End of the Year
Clean and Organize the Classroom at the End of the Year
Take the time now to save time later.
Leaving at the end of the year with a wonderfully clean and organized classroom can make your life about a bajillion times easier when it is time for back to school.
I know cleaning and organizing isn’t the most glamorous part of classroom life, but I like to get students involved as well. If you are able to dedicate a few minutes each day for the last few weeks of school to cleaning and organizing a small area of your classroom with students it will make your end of year checklist a breeze!
I have found that my students adore helping in the organizational process, and I adore them even more for that. This is especially powerful for some of the more tedious tasks like ensuring math manipulative kits are complete. Instead of going through 25 all on your lonesome give one kit to each student and have them go through it.
My rule of thumb is if a student can do it, even with a bit of guidance, they will. This saves so much time and stress I can’t even begin to tell you.
Also, label everything. EVERYTHING. No, you won’t remember what you put in that one box two months from now, so get yourself some sticky note labels and go to town!
Keep Expectations Sky High at the End of the Year
I know you know this, but a reminder you are doing the right thing is always welcome. Am I right?
You have high expectations for your students. I know you do. You established these high expectations beginning the first moment of the first day of school and you have kept them up this year. BUT now you just want to have fun and lets your students run free. Right? Wrong!
High expectations are the backbone of the classroom and should be maintained until you wave goodbye to your students as they leave the classroom on your final day.
This doesn’t mean you are a drill sergeant who doesn’t smile. It also doesn’t mean you don’t have any fun. It does mean you don’t let students walk all over you and their peers.
Keep Up the Community Building at the End of the Year
Raise your hand if you do amazing community building the first week of school and then push them out the door and never community build again? Yeah, I am guilty of this too. I fixed it though.
Once I started community building throughout the year our classroom environment changed dramatically, and for the better.
Community building doesn’t have to be all about fun and flashy, and it can absolutely include content. As a matter of fact, content based community building should be used often throughout the year.
For me, a lot of the last few weeks of school is about enjoying my students and getting them ready for the summer. This means really building up and celebrating the relationships you have formed all year long. A great way to do this is through cooperative learning activities which will get your students up and moving and working with many of their peers.
Looking for cooperative learning activities? Check out this set of 11 cooperative learning activities for the end of the year! These activities are also PERFECT for afternoons on testing days!
Complete Passion Projects
What better time of year is there to encourage students to follow their passions than at the end of the year?
Real answer? Any time of the year, but if we are being realistic we can admit it isn’t until after testing is done that you have the flexibility to really take on passion projects. This also serves the purpose of sending students into summer really pumped up about their passions which will hopefully lead to more independent learning throughout the summer.
One trick I have used to ensure students continue their learning throughout the summer is to give them a pre-stamped and addressed envelope with a card for them to write to me over the summer. I received so many amazing cards filled with details of their learning along with photos and stories from parents.
Passion products bring out an amazing element in students, because it is pure choice and real world.
During the last few weeks of school it is vital to stay on routine, keep expectations high, enjoy your time with your students, and encourage students to follow their passions and keep learning all year long.
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