Ending the school year does not have to be stressful! Over the years, I’ve collected some ideas to help make the last few weeks or days run smoothly. Check out these tips to end your school year on a high note too!
1. ENGAGE: Keep students engaged and learning until the end!
This is the most important tip, in my opinion. Trust me. I’ve been in the classroom for over a decade, and I’ve tried it all. Learn from my mistakes and make sure you keep students engaged until the last day. When students are not engaged and just given busy work or left to just hang out, unwanted issues ALWAYS arise.
Keeping students engaged at the end of the year does not need to be complicated or hard. I love giving my students engaging activities or projects that they get excited about AND can work collaboratively with their peers or independently.
The end of the year is the perfect time to let your students work on fun activities that you don’t otherwise have time to fit in during the rest of the school year.
Here are two of my favorite go-to ideas:
This is an opportunity for students to work on a passion project. When you provide students with choice and allow them to pursue research about a topic of high interest to them, engagement automatically increases. Not only do they get to research a topic of their choice, but they get to create an end product of their choosing as well.
Here are the guidelines I use for genius hour:
- Students drive the learning and choose what they want to research and learn more about
- Students must demonstrate new learning
- Students create a product or end result to share or publish
The escape rooms that I do with my students at the end of the year are rigorous, BUT they are also super fun! Students literally CHEER when I tell them it’s time to do an escape room.
Escape rooms are one of those activities where students actually forget that they’re working extremely hard and learning. It just feels like a game. Engagement is always super high, which is great for those last few weeks of school.
My Save the Summer and Escape to the Beach escape rooms are great for the end of the year because they get students excited for their summer breaks. Check out my post here to see just some the positive benefits of using escape rooms in the classroom!
If you’re looking for other highly engaging end of the year activities, check out my End of the Year Activities growing bundle. Each year, I will be adding new low or no prep resources to help engage students at the end of the year.
2. PURGE: Use it or lose it
There’s something so therapeutic about decluttering and getting rid of things that are broken, used up, or rather you just don’t use anymore.
And if you’re like me and like to hold on to every . little . thing . for fear that you will need it in the future, since you’re a teacher on a budget, use my favorite two year rule! If you haven’t used it in the last two years in your classroom, donate it (if it’s in good condition) or toss it.
I say two years, instead of one, because things always change from year to year. I like to give myself that buffer year, just to be safe!
Not sure where to start? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Did you use it at all this year or the previous year?
- Is it broken beyond repair?
- Is it missing pieces?
- Is it out of date?
- Is it something you need/will ever need?
- Is it used up (think supplies – old markers, highlighters, glue sticks, etc.)
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you should get rid of them!
And speaking of tossing old classroom supplies, this is a task that you can easily give to your students and they LOVE it. Seriously… it’s such a coveted task in my classroom!
When it comes to purging, you don’t want to forget about all your files too! As years progress, teachers collect hundreds and thousands of files, both paper AND digital. The end of the year is the best time to clean out and purge unused files as well.
Questions to ask yourself while purging files:
- Have I used them in the last year or two?
- Are they out of date?
- Are they specific to a particular class or student? If so, perhaps create a student sample folder and keep some as exemplars and toss the rest.
- Is this something I will ever use or need again?
3. PLAN: Your future self will thank you for ending the school year this way!
Planning may seem like the LAST thing you want to do those last few weeks or days of school, but hear me out. Planning out your activities for the first few days of school for the next year, at the end of the current school year, will be a game changer later on! Your future self will be so impressed and grateful!
The first week is always filled with introducing routines, procedures, and getting to know each other. There are lots of forms that go home that first week. A lot of the activities also require lots of copying to do. NOW is the time to prep and copy them.
Here’s my list of things I prep, print, and copy at the end of the year for the next year:
- Routines and procedures checklist – FREEBIE
- Student work placeholder signs for bulletin boards – FREEBIE
- Meet the Teacher letter
- Parent Survey
- Student Interest Surveys
- Any icebreakers or getting to know you activities
You can create a first week of school box, bin, or file to easily store the copies over the summer. I personally prefer the filing cabinet system, but do what feels best for you.
I hope these ideas for ending the school year helped! Comment below and let me know which one was the most helpful 🙂
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