7 Ways to Find the Joy in the Last Days of School

The final days of school can be a mix of emotions—bittersweet and chaotic! You’re busy tying up lessons, administering finals, grading assignments, and organizing end-of-the-year activities. Your email inbox is overflowing, your desk is cluttered, and the paperwork is piling up. The students in your classroom are eagerly anticipating summer fun, adding to their restlessness. Yet, there’s a pull at your heartstrings because you’ve spent a year building relationships with your students, and soon it will be time to say goodbye. Although it may feel like the days are dragging on and summer break will never arrive, it will come. Let’s explore some ways to savor every moment and continue making a positive impact on your students.

1. Take a really deep breath and stay focused

You have a list of things two miles long that you need to complete before you leave campus, but it’s really important that you don’t freak out. You’ve made it this far, and you can make it to the finish line. Take a good look at that list, and decide what things are really important. I’m betting there are a few things on there that can go. Take a deep breath, and focus on the moment. Remember why you’re there, to make a difference in the lives of your students.

2. Maintain classroom expectations, rules, and structure

This is a tough one because numerous factors can arise to disrupt your daily routine, such as field days, assemblies, and awards ceremonies. It’s tempting to overlook things towards the end of the school year, but students, regardless of their age, thrive with a structured environment. If your classroom descends into chaos, both you and the students will face difficult days ahead.

3. Keep teaching/learning

Now is an excellent opportunity for students to delve into subjects they find interesting and participate in enjoyable activities to demonstrate their newfound knowledge. It is crucial to be purposeful in your selection. Although assigning busy work might seem like a simple solution, it actually requires more effort as students finish quickly and either require additional work or grow bored, leading to disengagement and disruptions. Consider the strengths, preferences, and successful learning experiences of your students throughout the year. Opt for similar lessons or activities that will effectively maintain their focus and keep them engaged.

4. Reflect

Amid our rush towards summer, we often overlook taking a pause to reflect on our accomplishments throughout the year. This is an opportune moment to give students a chance to truly recognize their personal growth and comprehend the distinction between growth and grades. If you have kept copies of their work from throughout the year, it would be valuable to share them with the students, enabling them to witness their progress in writing, grammar, and, most importantly, the new concepts and skills they have acquired or mastered. Encourage them to explore their strengths and scrutinize their weaknesses. Assist them in setting goals for their future—what they aspire to learn, areas they can enhance, and strategies for improvement. This serves as a timely reminder to reinforce the significance of embracing a growth mindset.

5. Leave a Legacy

Provide students with the chance to write letters addressed to future students, expressing their thoughts and insights about the classroom. Record groups of students presenting their expectations for the classroom on video, which you can then share with your upcoming class. Additionally, for students transitioning to a different campus, encourage them to write letters to their former teachers and administrators, sharing their personal experiences and memories with them.

6. Nurture

Make it a priority to actively connect with each of your students in a significant manner. It’s possible that you are the sole individual who truly believes in them, so maximizing positive interactions before the year concludes is crucial.

7. Celebrate

You have all achieved remarkable things this year, and it’s time to celebrate your accomplishments! In addition to the awards ceremonies on campus, take a moment to recognize the unique talents of each student. YOU have put in tremendous effort, so make sure to carve out some time for relaxation and reflection on everything you have achieved. Treat yourself to something you truly enjoy or simply indulge in a day of rest and leisure. Regardless of what you choose, remember that you absolutely deserve it!

Navigating the last couple of weeks can be a challenge. I hope that you find things that inspire you and bring you and your students lots of opportunities to learn and laugh. 

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.

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