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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Ending the Year on a Positive Note

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

It's that time of year. You look up at your calendar and begin counting down to the last days of school. You might even have little numbers in the corner of the boxes indicating how many days are left in the year or until graduation.

Likewise, your students are on the edge of their seats. Maybe the weather has been getting nicer and nicer, or maybe students are in a hubbub about the upcoming dance or graduation or their summer vacation.

Administrators are wringing their hands with everything that needs to be done before the school doors close for the summer. Maybe they have preparations for summer programs, or maybe they're awaiting those all-important preliminary test scores from the State.

May is a tough month for anyone who works in a school.

I won't pretend to be immune to that end of year feeling, but I'm determined not to let it make me crazy.

Here's how we can stay sane and end the year with a bang.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments

Rather than counting down the days, start a list of your most successful uses of technology this school year. Celebrate your growth and make either a pencil and paper list (I'm picturing one of those papers under a magnet on your fridge or tacked to your corkboard), a blog post or Facebook note listing at least 5 things that you have done better this year (try tagging a few colleagues or teacher friends in your Facebook post to get a nice conversation going), a few new things you have tried or changes you have made in your classroom because of technology. This could be as simple as creating a filter in your email inbox, trying out a new Web 2.0 tool, starting a blog or using email to correspond with parents.

Encourage Student Reflection

Have your students reflect on their own use of technology and have them brainstorm ideas for next year. Let them offer up ideas for how technology could have been implemented in a lesson or project or have them list their favorite ways that the class has used technology this year.

Practice a Positive Mindset

When you walk into the staff lounge, do so with a smile and find something positive to share with your colleagues about this year. Try to pull a happy memory out of them of a successful lesson or bright moment in their year. Both of you will return to your students feeling refreshed.

Those are a few of my approaches. What else can we do to end the year on a high note?

Comments (14)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

I agree that I learn so much from my colleagues, many of whom I've never even met face to face! I look forward to seeing your count down. I'm going to work on mine today.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

Thanks Sacha, you have some great ideas in that post. I love the solar oven project!

[quote]I loved your ideas for ending the year on a positive note. I have done some thinking about this as well, and write my own list of ways to end the year on a positive note. Here are my thoughts: http://luria-learning.blogspot.com/2011/05/strong-finish.htmlThank you for all of your suggestions!

Sacha[/quote]

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

I love the idea of taking a reflective look at learning together. Sometimes we forget how much kids grow over the course of the year. Even more, we forget how much WE grow!

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

I wonder, Mickey, whether this is partly the result of high stakes testing. Once the Test is over, what else is there to learn? Why bother? While I don't agree with that statement, I wonder how common that line of thinking is among schools and teachers.

Katie's picture

I really like the idea of setting goals for the upcoming year. Although these goals may be forgotten over the summer, it is a good way to end the year with the future in mind. I had my students set goals about a month ago that they wanted to reach by they end of the year. I did this because I saw them (1st graders) becoming unmotivated toward the end of the year. I think that setting a goal for next year and thinking about how they can begin to reach that goal within these last few days is an engaging tool.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

That's great that you're doing that with your little ones. I think we need to foster that kind of thinking in young people. At such a young age, it is often hard for kids to think ahead to the future as most of them live in the now. It's an important skill and I'm sure it makes the end of the year more fulfilling!

[quote]I really like the idea of setting goals for the upcoming year. Although these goals may be forgotten over the summer, it is a good way to end the year with the future in mind. I had my students set goals about a month ago that they wanted to reach by they end of the year. I did this because I saw them (1st graders) becoming unmotivated toward the end of the year. I think that setting a goal for next year and thinking about how they can begin to reach that goal within these last few days is an engaging tool.[/quote]

lp's picture

I like the idea of taking a reflective look back at the school year. Our grade level team has our students write a letter to next year's students reflecting on all they have learned this school year. The letters are then left inside the desks for the students to find when school resumes in the fall. The current students leave on a positive note.

Kimberly Hancock's picture
Kimberly Hancock
Second grade Teacher

I really like the idea of student reflection as the school year comes to a close. It's like icing on the cake. My students create somthing similar to the comment about writing to the next years students. I have my students make a brochure, it includes a hand drawn picture of me along with a description of their new teacher. They also, write what these new students can expect to learn this year and rules they need to know about.

Jim Berman's picture
Jim Berman
Chef Instructor working with 10th, 11th & 12th graders; Wilmington, DE
Blogger

For the end of the year, we sit on the floor (campfire-style), eat pizza and simply talk. I get the students to think back to the start of the year and reflect on their accomplishments. The natural flow of the caht leans towards the upcoming school year: 'What's next?' is the obvious progression of the conversation. It is an opportunity to look back and look ahead, to remember and plan.

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