The end of the school year is challenging and stressful for all of us. Sometimes we, as teachers, forget that with all we have to do with tearing down our rooms, finishing report cards, updating files, planning field trips, and so on–that students are anxious too.
We know anxiety is on the rise. Some studies say that 1 in 8 children have some sort of anxiety disorder. (Here is a post with more information if you are interested). Why is the end of the school year such a challenging time? Here are a few reasons…and I’m sure you can come up with a bunch more.
- Some students depend on school for their meals. Whether this is a hot lunch or a breakfast program, some students have less reliable food sourcing over the summer.
- Students are “networked” at school. This is where they see their friends and can interact with their peers. Although some students have summer baseball, summer school, play dates, and more–this is NOT true for all of them. When school ends, their socializing does as well.
- Many students crave the structure of school. Routines such as getting up at the same time, knowing the daily schedule, and even knowing WE will be there is reassuring to students.
- School gives some students purpose. They feel successful, know what is expected, and can work toward goals. The unstructured time of summer can be challenging for some.
1. Get students moving!
As you know, students need to move their bodies–and this time of year the need is even greater! Whether you take students for extra recess, use GoNoodle, or just build more motion into your lessons, getting students out of their seats makes a difference.
Even something as simple as using task cards that are placed around the room for them to visit instead of using them at their desk. Let them read under their desks some days instead of sitting AT them. Have students work on the floor on cooperative problem-solving. Even taking your teaching “on the road” can be a great change of pace. When we do number line work, sometimes I’ll roll out a strip of painter’s tape in the hallway and we will make a “living” number line to warm ourselves up!
I even use these end of year word problems in a center that gets students out of their desks and working together. The fun end-of-year themed problems are way more fun than what the textbook offers!
2. Get students outside!
Of course, every school is different and has different rules. That being said, when the weather gets nicer, students (and teachers!) can spend more time looking out the window than they did in earlier months. You know the saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?”
Exactly. Head outside. Do sidewalk chalk math. Collect decimal data about how long it takes to swing across the monkey bars. Sit under a tree for read aloud time or quiet writing time. Take a walk around the school and pick up litter. Sometimes just admitting to students that YOU want to be outside as well can help them realize that they are not alone! Besides, a little fresh air never hurt a teacher either, did it?
3. Help students to be more creative!
In many schools, this time of year falls right after testing season where students have been “showing what they know” at their seats for hours. Let’s use this end-of-year time to help remind them that school is more than filling in bubbles! Whether you let the students try some reader’s theater, work art into a lesson, or have a class debate…students crave being able to step outside the box and try new things.
Simply rethinking how you TYPICALLY do something can help students be more creative as well. Instead of asking students to do a worksheet of big number multiplying, ask them to be more creative. How? What about changing things up–instead of asking them to solve 46 x 27, instead ask them to find different multiplication problems that have a solution of 4,250 instead. Let students see how many they can find. Want something ready made? Check out THIS POST for another multiplication idea. Interested in creativity? Click the image below for a post with more ideas.
4. Use props!
Doing a bake sale math problem? Have a treat. Doing descriptive writing? Describe a potato chip and bring in samples. You get the picture…rock their routine a little–and keep them learning.
5. Laugh–It’s the end of the year!
Above all, remember that you are human and your students are little kids. Take the time to tell jokes. Look at cute animal videos to start the day. Dance. Speak in funny voices. Read funny books. Your students will be happier…and I bet you will be too.
Enjoy the rest of your school year!
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