What a year!
No doubt after all the changes and adjustments you’ve had to make these last two school years, you are ready for summer to begin. However, before you get ready to jump into the swimming pool, binge-watch your favorite TV show, or tackle professional development classes, we have a few ideas about how to celebrate the end of the year with your students — even if you’re still remote.
Why End-of-Year Celebrations Matters
Larissa Chase, Studies Weekly well-being curriculum specialist, said it’s healthy for students and teachers to take time to process everything that’s happened during the school year, especially one with many challenges.
“Spending a little time to give closure to an exceptionally difficult year will help students feel like there is more hope for the next school year,” Chase said. “Celebrate the hard work that you and your students have done, the challenges you have overcome, and the ways you have grown.”
Preventing Compassion Fatigue
End-of-the-year celebration activities can keep you from experiencing compassion fatigue. According to Chase, this fatigue occurs when you get so many people asking you for help that it leaves you feeling emotionally exhausted. It can also cause headaches, irritability, difficulty sleeping, changes in weight, or feelings of depersonalization.
Recent events have made compassion fatigue a reality.
“It has been challenging to not only find answers, but provide them to the people who need them because of the unique challenges presented in virtual, hybrid, and traditional classrooms,” Chase said. “Attendance gaps, illness, COVID-19, and extenuating circumstances, for both teachers and students, have made it difficult to get the help they need.”
Not only have you had to meet your students’ needs, but you’ve also had to take care of yourself and family members. That’s why you deserve a chance to unwind with a fun end-of-the-year celebration.
Plus, you’ll be helping your students!
Time to Say Goodbye
Street said the end of the year is also hard for teachers because they have to say goodbye to students whom they’ve grown to love.
“You have just spent a whole year with your class. There have been ups and downs that you all have been through as a class. You see your class every day and become very close to the kids.”
Even your students will miss spending so much time with their school friends. Celebrating the end of the year gives everyone a chance to say goodbye in a fun way.
“It creates a class community and helps with team building,” Street said.
End-of-Year Celebration Ideas for Remote Learning
1. Sidewalk Chalk – Drop off chalk and ask students to draw their favorite school experience in their driveway. Take a picture of their drawings and make a video slideshow.
2. Teacher Parade – Decorate your car, drive by students’ homes, and wave to them.
3. Virtual Talent Show – Have students share their talents with the class via video, image, Google Slides, etc.
4. Student Awards – Give each student an award for something they did well this year (e.g., On-Time Award, Attendance Award, Collaboration Award, etc.).
5. JamBoard Collage – Create a JamBoard for each student and have everyone put post-it notes saying positive things about that student.
6. Class Yearbook – Ask each student to draw a digital picture of their favorite memory from this year. Put all their images into a PDF and send it to your students.
7. Summer Flowers – Drop off flower seeds with planting instructions and a note reminding students to maintain a growth mindset.
8. Virtual Lunch – Schedule a video conference where you and your students eat lunch and talk about your summer plans.
9. Postcards – Send each student a postcard to remind them what they learned about this year.
10. Yard Signs – Customize signs and put them on students’ front lawns, wishing them a happy summer and good luck in the next school year.
11. School Trivia Online – Quiz students on what they learned or fun facts about you and their classmates. The winner gets pizza delivered to their house.
12. Personalized Farewells – Write each student a letter expressing your admiration for their best qualities.
13. Theme Days – Assign a theme for each day of the last week of school. Have students dress up or do an activity that goes with the day’s theme.
14. Countdown Paper Chain – Create a paper link chain with an activity written on each link. Have students break a link and do the activity to countdown the last week of school.
15. Virtual Scavenger Hunt – Give students a list of items they have to find in their room or house before time runs out.
16. Class Story – Write a story that includes all your students and read it to them.
17. STEM Activity – Challenge students to create something with materials around their house.
18. Read-a-Thon – Read as many books as possible before the end of the year, either individually or as a class.
19. Balloon Pop – Put a fun activity inside five or more balloons to count down the last days of school.
20. Memory Board – Have students share their favorite memory of school or write it on a digital whiteboard.
21. Student Letters – Ask students to write a letter to the class coming in next year.
22. Kahoot Games – Play games with your students using Kahoot or some other game-based learning platform.
23. Teacher for the Day – Have students create a lesson for the class to do.
24. Mini-Research Project – Give students a whole class period to research something they want to learn more about.
25. Gratitude Pictures – Ask students to draw what they’re grateful for then share their pictures with the class.
Even if it’s virtual, a creative end-of-year celebration will recognize you and your students’ accomplishments. Celebrating will end the year on a positive note and have students looking forward to the future with hope.
How have you celebrated the end of the year with your students? Share your ideas on our Facebook page so other educators can see them.