The final days of school bring out a mix of emotions for both you and your students. Throughout the past several months, you have spent the majority of your days together, more than other relationships in your lives. They have faced challenges, overcome obstacles, and experienced personal growth beyond your expectations. Together, you have shared laughter, stories, and supported each other during difficult times. However, the time has come to bid farewell. Let’s explore some ways to make the farewells a little easier.
1. Celebrate Memories
It is crucial to give everyone the chance to reflect on the year and share their memories. Take the time to capture and celebrate these memories, and remember to share your own as well. There are various ways to accomplish this, and here are a few ideas:
- Memory Board: Students can choose one or two memories they would like to share. These memories can be about themselves, someone else, or the entire class. Ask them to select an image that represents the memory, such as a photo, drawing, magazine picture, or an online find. Display these images around the room to create a “gallery walk.” Allow students who wish to share their memories to do so. This activity works particularly well for elementary students. You can also adapt it for a smaller version by creating a class scrapbook.
- Top 10 List: Older students can reflect on their best learning experiences throughout the year. Encourage them to be as creative as they desire. Give them the opportunity to be as creative as they wish. They can make posters, create PowerPoint presentations, or even produce videos to share their top 10 lists.
2. Class Compliments
Receiving compliments makes us all feel better. To end the year on a high note, it’s a wonderful idea to give students the chance to share compliments with one another. Here’s how you can do it: put up large sheets of paper around the room, with each student’s name at the top, and let them freely write compliments on the pages. Alternatively, you can provide note cards or smaller pieces of paper for students to write personal compliments for their classmates.
Some students might find it challenging to initiate positive compliments, so here are a few prompts that can help:
- “I like the way you . . .”
- I think you. . . .”
- You are really good at . . .”
- I think you . . .”
Remember to write your own compliments on the pages as well.
Another idea is to write a class letter that showcases all the great things the class has accomplished throughout the year. Make copies for each student to take home.
3. Revisit Favorite Lessons/Activities
There’s no better way to end the year than by allowing students to relive their favorite lessons or activities. You probably have a good idea of which ones those were because the engagement levels were exceptional, and you enjoyed them too. Additionally, this can help you declutter any extra materials you don’t want to store during the summer.
4. Pack It Up
This activity can be challenging because it signifies that the end is near. It’s important to exercise caution when and how you dismantle the classroom, particularly with younger students who may be highly anxious about the school year’s conclusion. Some may act out in response, while others might feel sad or withdraw. Here are a few ways they can help:
- Allow them to browse the classroom library and select their favorite books for a re-read. Additionally, they can help you put away the remaining books.
- Following an art activity, provide them with bins of crayons and encourage them to sort out the broken ones. I have a friend who collects these broken crayons, melts them into molds, and creates new and exciting crayons to distribute to students on the last day. Maybe you could find someone who can do something similar for you.
You have formed meaningful connections with these students, and they have become an integral part of your journey as you have become a part of theirs. It is a mixture of happiness and sadness for all of you. Take this moment to cherish the positive experiences, reflect on the enjoyable moments and valuable lessons shared within the classroom, and wish them well as they embark on their next exciting chapter. Keep some tissues handy, just in case.
Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.