Senioritis: an affliction that grips members of most graduating classes the moment temperatures rise above fifty degrees and the sun comes out each spring. Senioritis is intensified by the completion of required course work, final exams, and teachers who choose to fill the last days and weeks of school with meaningless busy work and the viewing of films that students have already seen countless times.
There has to be a better way to fill these final days.
The Senioritis Solution
1. Help seniors begin establishing a professional digital footprint. Many of their social network accounts are brimming with updates about their latest escapades, and few of those highlights will impress future professors or employers. They’d do well to clean that up and begin building a better brand for themselves.
2. Invite them to investigate resume design. There are plenty of powerful examples online. Teach seniors how to curate their favorites and use them as exemplars for their own.
3. Graduating seniors will soon be seeking internships, part-time jobs, and serious employment in their chosen careers. Coach them through a few practice interviews. Let them practice with each other, too.
4. Summer is a perfect time for graduating seniors to take on part or full time jobs. Teach them how to conduct a job search. Give them time to apply in class. Provide them feedback on their applications. Teach them how to conduct follow up calls.
5. By now, many seniors know which career path they will take. Help them find and connect with mentors online. Show them how to establish a professional learning network using Twitter or other social networking tools.
6. Today’s seniors are idea people. They have an entrepreneurial spirit and a bit of know-how that we many not have had at their age. They also have an arsenal of free tools at their disposal that can help them make their business ideas a reality. If you know a kid like this, provide her time to pursue that vision.
7. Graduating seniors are some of the best advocates for change inside of the systems they are leaving. Seek out their voices. Ask them to assess you and your system. Empower them to leave your classroom and your school better than they found it.
8. Help your students leave a legacy for the learners who will follow them. Whether they’re leaving their work behind or planning to visit and share their expertise next year, graduating seniors have so many contributions to make. Take advantage of what they can offer. Show them how to pay their learning forward.
The best solution for senioritis has everything to do with authenticity. Make time for learners to reflect, identify the contributions they can make to your school or to other organizations, and help them follow through on their plans.
When seniors are invited to fill their final days with meaningful work that makes a difference, teachers find seats filled far more often as well. The beach will be waiting for them all summer. Do what you can to make these last days of school worth showing up for.
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A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at Angelastockman.com.