35 Things Every Teacher Should Do Before the School Year Ends

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school day ice cream
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The school year is filled with testing, report cards, and many other hurdles that make it exceedingly difficult. Don’t allow another year to pass without some completely out-of-the-box behavior.

You never know when crossing a few old-school boundaries may change a student’s or a colleague’s life, while bringing the joy back to your teaching.

35 things you should do before school ends

1 – Change your countdown. Instead of counting down the days remaining before summer break, count the days until the new school year begins. It cultivates a love of learning.

2 – Celebrate success. Forget everything that you’d consider a failure, and focus on the successes in your class and at your school. Now, share them with everyone.

3 – Holster that movie. There are much better ways to engage learners at the end of a school year. Your students have all summer to stare at TV.

4 – Go outside. The weather is turning, and students are eager to escape that stuffy classroom. Take a walk around campus; recite poetry while sitting on the grass; climb a tree.

5 – Clean out lockers and desks before the last day of school. I had a principal once who scheduled locker clean-out once every six weeks. This was a brilliantly simple idea.

6 – Play music. It soothes the savage beast and kids, too.

7 – Hang out at the library. Is there a better place?

8 – Eat ice cream. Plan to have the ice cream truck stop outside your school. Then, buy your students a cone. Have one yourself and let it drip down your chin.

9 – Play a prank on a colleague. This is great for team building. Involve kids, and help them understand the boundaries involved in this age-old practice.

10 – Spend a day on social media. If done right, students may learn more this day than any other.

11 – Break out in song. It may be terrifying, but boy is it fun.

12 – Dance. If students don’t join in automatically, you must not look silly enough.

13 – Have an Open Mic day. For a cool twist, encourage students to make jokes about your subject or to do their best imitation of you.

14 – Write teacher evaluations. This one is risky, but asking students to evaluate you and your class can enrich your teaching like nothing else.

15 – Eat pizza. Just because it tastes so good.

16 – Tell everyone to take off their shoes. Sure, it may get a bit smelly in your classroom, but it’s so relaxing. You might consider combining this one with number 4.

17 – Bring in a guest speaker. Make it someone unexpected and fun–crazy even. Remember, it’s not always about connecting to your subject area. The goal is to keep students engaged when they just want it to be over.

18 – Wave a magic wand. Tell students they can change anything in your class or your school with a magic wand; absolutely anything goes. This is fun and you never know when it just might work.

19 – Produce a movie. With amazing tools like Animoto and Magisto, it’s super easy for kids to create wonderful videos. Encourage them to make an important statement about the school year.

20 – Write a letter to next year’s students. This is an oldie but a goodie. You learn so much about yourself and your methods when reading what students write about you.

21 – Teach kindness. This is a good one for anytime, but it’s especially important to emphasize being kind to students, as they head off to a long summer.

22 – Break out the crayons. Try to color inside the lines.

23 – Tell a secret. See how long your students can keep it.

24 – Start a book club. Invite students to discuss it over summer break on a social network. Goodreads is a great place for this activity.

25 – Make that kid feel special. You know the one. Sure he annoyed you for most of the year, but he had his reasons. Spend a couple of days doing all you can to make him feel like the most important kid you teach.

26 – Challenge your students like never before. Give them a seemingly impossible task. Tell them it may be too difficult; then, help them in any way you can, without helping too much.

Hack Learning mobile app27 – Teach them to reflect every single day. Ask them to consider how they might be better tomorrow.

28 – Help a colleague. Someone at your school needs a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand. Be there. You’ll feel good about it.

29 – Maintain a journal or blog. Reflect on your practice. Write about what you do well and where you can improve.

30 – Hug a student who needs it. There was a time when I thought this was crossing a line. I’m so glad I learned that it’s part of a teacher’s job.

31 – Laugh at yourself. Self-deprecating humor is a teacher’s best friend.

32 – Make kids feel safe. They need this most.

33 – Read to them. Yes, even high school kids.

34 – Tell students you believe in them. Harvard professor Ron Ferguson’s research actually says this will make them perform better.

35 – Tell them you’ll miss them. Before they leave for summer break and a new teacher or maybe a new school, tell your students you’ll miss them. They’ll love you for it.

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, The uNseries, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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