I will begin some of my end of the year routines:
* I have started my reading assessments.
* I have started the art work for the parent tea. (Thank you to Working for the Classroom for the lesson idea.)
We have also started our End of the Year Memory Books. These memory books help my students remember all of the great things that happened in school this year.
We also wrote reflections in our Mindful Journals. I was so pleased at the writing that the students did. These pieces were not revised or spell checked as they were in their journals but the depth of thought made me feel so good about the character education lessons clearly learned this year.
" What I Learned About Myself This Year: I learned that I can do somethings by myself and some things I need help with. I learned I am good at writing stories. I learned that I have good eye sight. I learned that happiness can get you everywhere. I learned that when it's too hot I get uncomfortable, and when it's pouring rain I get uncomfortable. I learned that I can get distracted by other people. I learned that some things are easy to learn and some things aren't" - 2nd grade student
After reading these journals, I really felt compelled to align my year end book with the mindfulness concepts I have taught my students all year long so I also created this Memory Book for Mindful Learners. This memory books does just that. This nicely captures student self reflection on how they have grown as mindful learners throughout the year: mind, heart, body. :)
But there's more!! I also started looking around the room and smiling at all the growth that my students have shown this year. They are proud too. BUT, I also can't help but noticing that many of the students are coming up to me and hugging me more than usual. I am pretty sure one little one thinks I am a teddy bear. I think that in the teachings of self reflection, students are really aware more than ever this year!
The questions are now coming out fast and furious: "Will you be my teacher next year?" "How many days are left in school?". One could assume that kids are excited for the end of the school year but there are many children that are not. Parents are beginning to tell me that their child is already worried that their friend will not be in their class next year or that someone they haven't gotten along with this year WILL be in their class. These children are already worrying about something that is 3 months away. They haven't even started their vacation yet!! Now I know some of you will say, "Oh they'll forget once they are on vacation" and some may but often students bury their worries and then they come out again a week or two before school starts again.
So, while we "celebrate" the end of the year, many teachers are realizing that maybe putting more emphasis on the transition from this school year into summer and the positive approach to next year is what students are needing now.
I am going to approach this in a resiliency and change manner. I asked myself "How can we celebrate the end of a successful year and transition these students into having positive thoughts about next year?"
I created a self reflection sheet to help them to express themselves about how they are feeling, now that the end of the year is almost here. This Who I AM printable is for next year's teacher. Primaries could identify their hobbies and things they like to do and who their friends have been for the last couple of years and the traits they liked about them. For the older kids, the could more easily identify the traits of kids that they consider friends and their strengths in school . That way, they can identify with kids they don't know next year but will be able to recognize the traits of character that they look for in a friend or the common interests of hobbies.
I thought if maybe this was done at year end and saved for next year's teacher, it would help students to know that kids of like mind or similar personalities will be in their class next year. Kids would know that their new teacher would know who they are right away. Teachers would have a "getting to know you" piece right away that they could use as a way to build community in the first week of school. Not only would teachers see and get to know their new students right away but these could be used privately, or made into a class book, or posted on a wall so students can read and use these to develop friendships with kids with common likes, strengths or hobbies.
You can grab your free copy of This is Me HERE.
I'm hoping that by using these this year and explaining the purpose to the students, this will help students to not only feel happy for the end of the year but also more in control of how THEY are able to make new friends next year. Other teachers and administrators would have to be on board in your school to make this really effective and extra copies would have to be copied for students new to the school in the Fall.
If you give this a try this year or have thoughts on this, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.