As the school year comes to a close, students and teachers alike begin to count down to summer. We completely get it. But there’s still a lot to love about May and June. Like these best parts of the end of the school year:
1. Field Day
What is better than a day under the sun competing in potato sack races, kickball, and jump rope contests? Classmates are transformed into teammates as they turn coolers full of water balloons into battle royales. Playground glory is the highlight of students’ lives ages 6 to 13 (and maybe of their teachers’ lives too). The best field days are capped off with cold, fruity popsicles or other frozen treats and sun-kissed students who fall asleep on the car and bus rides home.
As a student, I could not wait to get my yearbook at the end of each year. I wanted to thumb through the pages to see myself in action. As a teacher, I have to admit that that excitement has only grown. Now, instead of looking for myself, I look for my students in all of their glory and see how they have changed from the beginning of the year to the end and following them year upon year even after they have left my classroom. And, soliciting their sweet signatures leave me with farewell messages long after they have left my school. Regardless of grade or school level, you can cherish these photographic and handwritten memories forever.
3. Awards assemblies
The end of the year also brings the opportunity to reward our students for hard work well done. In elementary and middle school, awards assemblies give each student a chance for a certificate celebrating his or her successes, from achieving goals in certain subject areas to making Honor Roll. High school honors nights up the ante awarding graduation cords, scholarships, and the coveted Valedictorian status to young men and women in the on the cusp between adolescence and adulthood. Seeing the pride on the parents’ and students’ faces is gratifying at all levels.
4. End-of-year dances
From elementary daddy-daughter dances to first formals to Senior Prom, the end of the year brings a chance to see your students in a whole different light and to get a little fancy yourself. Between six and seven o’clock in the evening, elementary, middle, and high school gyms and cafeterias are transformed by DJs, lights, and lovingly-constructed balloon arches. Seeing students, whether 8 or 18, wearing such finery and enjoying themselves on the dance floor is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
5. Final ah-ha moments
The end of the year is when students are expected to have mastered the standards and we are, somehow, supposed to keep them engaged. This is the perfect opportunity to try out some of those enrichment and remediation activities that just didn’t fit in before testing. Read all of the current year’s award winning books and have students vote. Engage in virtual or real dissections to illustrate anatomy concepts. Create terrariums or school gardens and watch your students’ understanding grow with the plants. These outside-the-box activities provide the opportunity for final lightbulb moments that can illuminate the whole room.
6. Farewell parties
As the academics come to an end, there is a little time to relax. Having a party where regular volunteers can come to be recognized and summer birthdays can be celebrated is one of the best ways to end the year with a smile. Give students goody bags with donated books to keep up with summer reading and package up all of the previously-displayed work to send home for parents to see the progress. Even high-schoolers love a party and will bring in drinks, cups, cookies, and chips to share. Order a pizza and you’ll be their favorite teacher forever.
7. Promotion ceremonies and graduation
The final and most dignified of the celebrations for the year are promotion and graduation ceremonies. From the preciousness of Pre-Kindergartners and Kindergarteners in their mini-caps and gowns to fifth graders looking forward to middle school and eighth graders looking forward to high school, watching the progression and growth of students through the years is among the most satisfying and gratifying experiences as a teacher. Nothing, however, can beat seeing the culmination of all of that effort at a high school graduation. Whatever grade level you teach, go to the high school graduation and remember that you contributed to getting at least some of those students to that special day.
What do you think are the best parts of the end of the school year? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook.