Teachers often say that “you just cannot make this stuff up.” It usually has something to do with what a student does or something a parent says. A pandemic with school closures was not in the realm of possibility. Nevertheless, it happened.
As the school year ends, many teachers are aching for those favorite end of the year activities. The kindergarten cookies and punch with children ready for first grade, the Spring concert, staff and student kickball game, awards ceremonies, talent shows, school-wide barbecue, last read aloud, and sixth-grade promotion, and the list goes on.
Instead, teachers go back to childless classrooms to break down the bulletin boards, store textbooks, and prepare for summer cleaning. School will close, and yet we have the opportunity to close our classrooms in the professional and personal way one sees fit.
It is vital, to begin with, what is the intent or the purpose, desire before making a plan. Each intent or goal will be unique for each educator. Take the time to sit down, get quiet, and do this first and save some pain and wasted energy.
Identify the Intent
Start by asking the question, “What is emotionally needed to end the school year in a good place.”
Possible answers to this question are:
- Bring a sense of finish to the year in order to move on
- Give students a sense of academic and personal accomplishment. to move to the next grade
- Have some fun and celebrate the year because fun is joyful
- Emphasize the importance of community and how we were all in this together
Think about Possibilities
Get a pencil and paper and write down all the actions that could be taken based on the intent. The ideas can come from past classroom closures or Pinterest. Free flow the ideas with no judgment. Then go back and circle the ones that feel right and will fulfill the original intent.
Here are some possibilities:
- End the year quietly with a friend or partner there when breaking the room down.
- Call a friend or colleague if the emotions are painful
- Be sure to give students work and personal items left in the classroom while social distancing.
- Create closure with a personal letter to students, memory books
- Have students write letters to future selves about this year.
- Have students make a video for next year’s students reflecting on the fun and bloopers
- Have an end of the year Zoom party complete with food and decorations
- Have students visit Zoom classrooms of next grade level
- Give the end-of-the-year awards that have Zoom themes: best background, best hair, silliest, most studious, best attendance, and ate the most meals online.
These are only some possibilities, and it is essential to add to this list with personal intention and goals.
Children and their families need a sense of closure. Staff and teachers need a sense of closure. Adding flavor to the end of the year days and procedures will instill hope, joy to all.
As teachers, the mission remains the same. Relationships and not brick and mortar sites make the “colors burst” in education. A pandemic will never stop the passion for making a difference for students and changing the world for the better.