Saturday, June 6, 2009

End of the Year: To Teach or To Celebrate?

I have a confession to make . . . it's the last week of school and I've stopped teaching. I know I'm supposed to teach until the last day of school, and I really did try. I know the common wisdom is that teachers should continue with instruction until the last day of school in order to keep each day as normal as possible. But I found that the more I tried to teach, the more my students resisted learning anything new. Don't get me wrong - I have a wonderful group of students. It's just that at the end of the year, their brains are fried and so is mine! They couldn't sit still, and they couldn't focus on instruction. I was using every management trick in the book to keep them on task. I finally gave up last Tuesday when I realized that I had spent the whole day fussing at them and we were all miserable.

My ah-ha moment came when I wondered why I had no memory of last year being so miserable for everyone. Then I remembered that last year I spent the last week doing fun activities to celebrate our time together as a class. We made a class scrapbook, created personalized autograph books, wrote reflections, played math games, and had a Scrabble tournament.

So last week I ditched the instruction and planned some activities that we could enjoy together at the end of the year. I'm reading aloud more and we take more time with our class meetings. We are making our class scrapbook, learning math logic games, presenting reader's theater plays, and enjoying class kickball games. The kids voted on class awards that will be presented on Wednesday along with a photo essay of our year together. I'm posting some of my end-of-the year activities on my website ( although I know many people are out for the year.

My conclusion? The end of the year is not for academic learning . . . it's for celebrating as a class. It's for recognizing accomplishments and solidifying friendships. It's for creating memories that will last a lifetime!