You made it! We all made it! What a year! Though my articles usually provide instructional strategies to support diverse learners, as this school year wraps up, it is only fitting that everyone stop and play the song “Celebrate” by Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Please take a special moment to celebrate yourself, students, and our community of families. This school year was no ordinary year, full of unprecedented events and more.

Before the school year wraps up, provide yourself and students opportunities to celebrate, appreciate the great times, and close with optimism. Innovation, resilience, and grace are my top three words to describe the 2020-21 school year. What are your three words?

For You

Teacher appreciation never ends. Like a superhero, you are always ON. Dreaming and creating amazing learning opportunities for students. If you need a pick me up, watch this Learning Forward “Thank you, teachers!” video to remind yourself that because of you, a student’s life is better; because of you, a student made it through a historical period of collective trauma.

Students will remember YOU and how you made them feel. This year was more than academic standards, it was about “who” we want students to become along their way: wiser, braver, more resilient, greater perspective, more compassionate.

Try these mindfulness practices:

Appreciation: as you inhale and exhale, take a moment to connect with yourself. As you slowly breathe in and out, reflect on something you are looking forward to, big or small.

Harnessing Joy: as you inhale and exhale, take a moment to connect with yourself. What would it look like for you to be the happiest, greatest version of myself? What do you see, feel, hear, smell, etc.

Proud Moment: as you inhale and exhale, take a moment to connect with yourself. What are you most proud of in this moment?

Fill Your Cup: as you inhale and exhale, think about how you fill yourself when you start to feel drained (see my “Why self-care is a must for educators” article).

For Students/Families

Our goal is to end every lesson and, most importantly, this school year with a sense of optimism. This is a chance for students to reflect on growth, celebrate progress, and share their journey with classmates and families. I’ve collected a few resources with great activities for both in-person and remote learning that can help you end the year with excitement.

  1. TCEA has provided an extensive list of great closure activities.
  2. Common Sense Education provides us with a comprehensive list of virtual and in-person games and instructional opportunities for students to highlight accomplishments.
  3. ABC’s EOY Countdown Activities provides a teacher guide to 25 quick and exciting fun closing activities.
  4. One of my favorite activities to use as a closure with students is the 3-2-1.
    • 3 unique things about your family
    • 2 challenges you’re currently facing
    • 1 goal or dream you have
    • Create a virtual board using Padlet or Jamboard. Students will share whichever prompt they feel comfortable and encourage students to comment on their peers’ responses to build connection and community.
  5. End the year using the Compliment Project (aka Spread the Love). This is a great way to build community and celebrate each student! Watch the strategy in action here.

In closing, as you reflect on the hurdles and triumphs of the 2020-21 school year, please remember Brené Brown’s famous one-liner, “It is good enough,” and rejuvenate over the summer knowing that your best is always good enough. Thank you for your dedication to reaching and teaching ALL students.

Take care and see you in August!