George Lucas Educational Foundation
Teacher Wellness

How to Finish the School Year Strong

May 5, 2016         Updated May 2, 2016

Young student with her homemade windmill project
Photo Credit: Hero Images
As a third grade teacher in NYC in the late 90’s I used to remind my students in late spring that - despite what the thermostat was telling us - summer isn't here yet. We have projects to complete! Stories to write! Friendships to strengthen! "Let's finish the year the way Mariano Rivera finishes baseball games," I would tell them. You might recall that The Yanks were a pretty decent team in the latter part of that decade, so the analogy resonated with the kids (even those that favored a certain Blue and Orange team). My message was simple: Let's stay focused and go off for summer vacation with good memories of our time together.

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That’s what we want for all our students and staff in schools, right? We want to finish with a win.  We want adults to arrive in the last few weeks - battered and bruised as they may be - with the same level of energy and love they brought to school in the first few weeks of September. We want kids to remain engaged in projects and celebrations that honor their year's- worth of hard work and achievement, and to be physically and emotionally safe in their final days. The end of the year is hard - no doubt - as approaching transitions bring anxiety, minds wander to the summer ahead, and in many parts of the country classrooms are downright HOT. For all these reasons, we need to deliberately muster our strength and bring our A-game to school in the final days. We need to choose to finish strong, rather than letting the calendar run itself out.

And so I beg you, dear educators, please do not give in to the temptation of Disney moviesand to endless candy and cake-fueled parties. Please do not take down the bulletin boards on June 1st, and do not start raffling off classroom items ("chalkboard eraser, anyone?") like so much rubbish at the tail end of a garage sale. Remember that most kids will soon have 10+ weeks off, and that the remaining days in June are precious opportunities for learning. Way too many kids will go the entire summer without reading a single book, and with way too much time in front of the television, so let’s NOT give them a head start on that.

This last month of school should be a time to dig in and celebrate the joy of learning.  Standardized tests are behind us, and this is a great month for field trips and projects. If educators need some great ideas on how to finish the year strong, take a look here and here and here…and by all means, please suggest some other ideas in the comments section!

So to all of us - students, parents and educators - let’s try to finish strong together. Let’s all throw hard strikes and get to the end with a victory. We are all tired. We are all eight and two-thirds innings into the game. Let's turn to Mo’s theme song (Metallica's "Enter Sandman") for rejuvenation and saunter into school - like he did so many times from the bullpen - focused and ready to face the day right up to the last pitch.

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.

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