I know that many schools across the country have already celebrated their last day, but here in Portland we’ve still got 3 weeks left (actually, it’s 13 days, according to the second graders.)
So, how do you make it through when you’re busier than ever (have you started your reports yet?), your kids are antsier than ever and all of you are counting down the days (like the second graders)?
Here are my Waldorf Teacher Tips for surviving the end of the school year.
This is no time to ease up and ride the wave of student energy. They still need structure, rhythm and routine and the most effective way to provide them with that order is through captivating content. I’ve never been a fan of talking over students and insisting on quiet before I start speaking to the class, but the end of the year is one time when I start to loosen up on that expectation a bit. I know that if I launch into some fascinating story they’ll all settle right down and listen. (Read this post for more of my opinions about classroom management.)
The point? Keep them busy, engaged and working for as long as possible.
Take some time with your students to reflect on the school year. You can do this by informally remembering experiences, stories and lessons, or you can make an assignment out of it. Some ideas?
- Have your students look back through their main lesson books and have them each choose a page to recreate and put together a class main lesson book that summarizes the year.
- Launch a class newsletter project where students write funny stories and experiences from the year. Put their stories together in newsletter form and make a copy as a gift for every student at the end of the year.
- Start an annual self-portrait tradition. Every year have your students draw a picture of themselves and collect them all to keep and look through at 8th grade graduation.
There is something about warm, sunny weather that just makes academic work difficult. Go with the flow and make those last few weeks all about hands-on projects. Cover the content you want to cover, but make your daily review active, fun and project oriented. Things you could make?
- End of year gifts for the subject teachers, parents or each other.
- Cooking projects.
- A gift for the rising class behind you.
- Bookmarks for their summer reading.
Search Pinterest for more ideas.
4. Outside time.
It’s beautiful out. Don’t resist the call to get outside. Hopefully you’ve planned your blocks so that you’re teaching a block that pulls you outside anyway. Botany, geography, mineralogy — these are all great topics to explore in the spring or the fall, so don’t be afraid to take your lessons outside when you can. If the block you’re in doesn’t lend itself to outdoor lessons, look for ways to get out anyway. Extend your morning warm-up a few minutes. Do bookwork outside. Look for those chances and take them.
You’ve got to have an end-of-year party or activity of some sort. My class has a tradition of having a surprise field trip during the last week of school. They don’t know where we are going or what we are doing, but they know it’s going to be fun. One year we walked down to the waterfront and rented surreys (those big 4 person bicycles). Another year we walked to the bowling alley. Each one of these trips has been one of the most memorable, class-bonding experiences we’ve ever had.
It’s been a long, productive year — make sure you take some time with your class to acknowledge it.