The End of the School Year: A Time to Pause and Celebrate Successes
The walls of the classroom look emptier than they looked a month ago and a few remnants of the presence of students remain: a pencil here or a sticky note there containing a past thought. As the last student leaves the room in which you’ve built a community, many emotions can fill the empty space. The end of the school year invites an opportunity to pause and celebrate successes.
I remember feeling an assortment of emotions in the quiet, empty space of my classroom at the end of every school year. There were feelings of uncertainty, excitement, exhaustion, joy, anxiety, peace, and relief. I was glad to finally wrap up another year and begin a well-deserved summer break, and yet a lingering sadness filled my thoughts as I remembered each student, the community we had built, the successes, and the challenges.
As this school year comes to a close, it is important to acknowledge all the feelings that come with such a transition. They provide natural opportunities to pause and to acknowledge and celebrate successes.
The Importance of Pausing
As teachers, we are constantly handling multiple tasks simultaneously. As the end of the year nears, we’re supporting students as they reflect on their accomplishments. We’re helping to guide the completion of culminating projects. We’re providing students with the learning and skills they need to prepare for final assessments, and planning and engaging in end-of-the-year celebrations. The rigorous pace and many tasks of the final weeks of school can feel daunting and can create feelings of urgency. With everything that’s going on, it’s difficult to remember to pause so that we can refocus and regain balance. Taking the time to pause creates an opportunity to hit the reset button in our minds, to be more present, to more fully acknowledge the moments, thoughts, and emotions that are an important part of the end of the school year.
The Importance of Celebrating
During the final weeks of school, we devote time to considering and planning activities, reflections, and celebrations with students to maintain the sense of classroom community. Creating, guiding, and nurturing a community of learners through a school year is an incredible accomplishment that we can sometimes forget is also worth celebrating! We need to take the time to celebrate our own successes and connect with colleagues to support the adult community. What are some of the moments of the school year that stand out? What are some of the challenges that yielded success? Celebrating the successes of the year helps end the year on a positive note. Here are just a few ways to consider:
- Write a letter to yourself listing your top 10 successes of the school year. Before the start of the next school year, read the letter so you can be reminded of your accomplishments.
- Set aside time to connect with colleagues to celebrate the year you’ve had together.
- Gather with colleagues and fill a container with slips of paper on which each person has written their name and one success for the year. Before leaving the gathering, invite each person to take a slip of paper with someone else’s success and message that individual over the summer to acknowledge and celebrate that success with them.
- Create a space or an opportunity through social media where colleagues can post their accomplishments. Consider modifying a fun sharing structure from Closing Circles, The Responsive Advisory Meeting Book, or The Morning Meeting Book, such as:
- Hard Workers (Closing Circles, page 110)
- What’s the News (The Responsive Advisory Meeting Book, page 194)
- Headlines (The Morning Meeting Book, page 121)
Taking time to pause for reflection as the school year winds down and celebrate the successes of the year helps ensure that you can end the year, and start your summer, in a more refreshed mental and emotional state.