Get Ready to Create the Best Back to School Activities and Procedures USING the End of the Year
The much-hyped “state testing” season has probably come and gone in your classroom… and you’re EXHAUSTED. The students are over it. You’re over it… And now you’re looking at the calendar and wondering what in the world you’re going to do to keep these students engaged until the end of the year… ehhh… more like what you’re going to do each day that will prevent them from doing everything from annoying each other to destroying what’s left of your tired classroom walls…or worse ;)
Trust me… I’ve been there. I’ve approached the last few weeks of school (which seem like years) many different ways over my years in the classroom. I tried everything from being the “cool teacher” and saying “just act right and relax” (which now makes me shudder at the thought) to creating new lessons and activities that attempted to prepare my students academically for the next school year. Pshhh….. Neither of those worked for me. It was the tale of two cities (at least management and expectation wise) and I don’t know which was worse – but I DID KNOW there had to be a better way!
With no further ado, here is one of my teacher pro tips that will help you use the “End of the Year” season in your classroom to create even better “Back to School” activities in your classroom!
Experiment with New Procedures, Lessons and Activities for Next School Year
It wasn’t until I was a growing teacher-author on TPT that this dawned on me, and looking back, I am wondering why. Why not take these “low stakes” weeks of the school year and use the students you’ve already created relationships with and your classroom to experiment with new instructional strategies, activities, lessons and/or resources that you might want to implement next year? This experimental season has the potential to SIGNIFICANTLY impact your level of success as a teacher during the most important part of the school year – NEXT AUGUST!
Maybe you’re thinking, “But I don’t know what I want to do next year… It’s going to be a miracle if I can just get through this one…” First of all, that was my first thought year-after-year as well. You’re not alone in the world of teaching….
But let me challenge you with this: Start with something or somewhere that you thought you failed this year. Maybe it was the first day of school… maybe the week before Spring Break… heck… maybe it was this morning! Maybe it’s a problem that has progressively gotten worse over the year in your classroom and it’s brought you to your wits end. Use these moments of “something has got to change” as a springboard to a different way of doing business in your classroom. And here is the kicker: Don’t wait until next year to try your “new thing” – TRY IT NOW – in these weeks that can provide so much insight into how you might approach next year to have the best back to school season (and school year) YET!
“Experiments” I’ve Tried at the End of the School Year
Again, from experience, I have found that my best classroom management and instructional improvements have been inspired by a problem or failure that I have experienced throughout the given year. Below you will find a table with my identified “areas of desired growth” (gotta put that growth mindset into action – right?) paired with the newly inspired “experiment” and then a brief summary of the outcome:
Area of Desired Growth
Outcome and Next Steps
|The Classroom Wallet||One physical place for “ALL THE THINGS” classroom management (i.e. bathroom passes, technology||I created a printable half-sheet that students glue into the back of their composition book. It has areas for bathroom passes, extra credit, technology misuse, free assignments, etc. When they want to “use” something from their wallet – they bring me their journal and I mark it off as used. They lose their wallet – they lose all of their valuables ;)||Success! It was a total game changer in our classroom procedures and I won’t go another year without implementing it in my classroom!|
|Letter to Next Year’s Students||What did students enjoy about my classroom and my teaching? What could be done to make it better?||Haha! Have you done an “experiment” and then asked yourself why you thought that was a good idea? Well, this was one of those! As we know, students are unapologetically honest when it comes to giving feedback (especially middle schoolers). This was such an awesome activity but not for the thin-skinned. I know that I have a unique and quarky personality but when you read someone else describing you and your ways – it takes it to a whole new level! This has turned out to be one of MY FAVORITE end of year activities. Check it out here and you’ll quickly see why: Letter to Next Year’s Students||Success!! And it turned into an awesome activity for the incoming students the following year. So I am chalking this one up as an end of year activity as well as a back to school activity that is PERFECT for middle schoolers!|
|Can You Follow Directions ICEBREAKER||A refreshing ice-breaker that would test the students ability to follow directions during the first week of school!||I created this unique icebreaker during one of my more creative moments and it took a minute for the students to catch on.. But once they did, it seriously has provided hours of fun and entertainment (as well as engagement) in my middle school classrooms! It’s just one of those things that doesn’t get old! Check it out here: Back to School ICEBREAKER Activity: “Can you follow directions?”||Fun and can be used throughout the year. You can make it a competition. It’s just one of those activities that can be tweaked over and over again and used for an end of the year activity or a back to school activity in any classroom! It worked so well that I created a 2nd Edition that challenges students even more: Back to School ICEBREAKER 2nd Edition: “I saw the SIGN!?” FUN Grades 6-12|
Have you ever experimented with back to school activities during the end of the year season? If so, I want to know! Drop some love in the comments :)