One Teacher’s To-Do List for the End of the School Year
By Gabby Arca, Educator & Blogger
We asked educators from The Art of Teaching Project to share their favorite and most important tasks to complete at the end of the school year. Here are the top ten projects 5th grade teacher and blogger Gabby Arca takes on before summer break:
- Write thank you notes. I write personal notes and set aside class time to guide students to reflect and write their own. These include notes to students, ridiculously reliable, wonderful maintenance staff, an amazing receptionist, a family that has been really kind, a colleague/peer that helped you, a class of students you used to have that is graduating, etc.
- Log that all my books have been returned! I have students help out and remind families to return any they might find.
- Set aside class time to solicit student feedback. My co-teacher and I wrote blog posts about how and why we do this in 2017 and 2018: End of year feedback from students (post from 2017), Always Ask for Student Feedback! (post from 2018). Our work of teaching and learning is grounded in reflection which is so important!
- Take pictures, make a slideshow, or do some sort of comparison from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. This can be photos from then and now, opening the letters we wrote to ourselves in September, or comparing work from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
- Assign a lot of student helpers to take things down and clean!
- Play more games. Plan for fun moments together — this is the last time this learning community will be together in exactly this way and time will fly and the year will be over. We love making a point to just enjoy each other as the year winds down.
- Prepare summer reading lists. (We also wrote a blog post on this, Setting Students Up for Summer Reading!) Foster continuous reading excitement and set them up for success to have books they know they want to get at the library or the bookstore. (We have tons of posts on books we love, here is the most recent one about books we extra loved for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month).
- Finish that all class read aloud! We wrote about how we wrap that up in an older post (Looking Back to Look Forward).
- Reflect: use that student feedback, consider the pieces that worked and haven’t worked, and congratulate yourself. There is always more we could do or a piece that could have gone better or a student we wish we reached or supported better. Make note and also celebrate another great year of fostering forever learners!
- Plan an end of school meal that you’re excited about (for me, it’s usually an Ethiopian dish! I just got hungry writing that). We just love food so... yep!
Gabby is an elementary educator who is passionate about the brilliance of all young people, and the caring, justice oriented work they can do. She’s an avid eater and traveler, but a terrible chef. She writes and teaches about these passions with rad previous co-teacher Nina Sethi on their TeachPluralism blog. She’s currently working with middle schoolers, and getting her Masters in Special Education at the University of Oregon.
To be reminded why your work is so very important and for more stories and advice, visit our collection of teacher perspectives at The Art of Teaching.