Ideal End to the Year

I woke up this morning realizing that the end to this school year is not much different than the end of school years in the past ten years, and I'm wondering how we can rethink the final days of school to make those days more peaceful for families, educators and students.

The end of the year includes numerous special activities.  I actually don't mind all the activities that involve the children and the classroom as we've been leading up to those culminating events all year.  I also like the events that signal the end of the year for the whole community such as the school picnic and the concerts.

I'm wondering though if we can rethink the end-of-the-year events that add extra pressure and leave less time for the work we do with children.  Here are a couple thoughts.

I think we should back up end-of-the-year paperwork related to summer work, ordering and staffing a month or so. We have days set aside for teacher teamwork, and we could use that time to focus on these end-of-the-year efforts rather than squishing in those efforts in the little time we have after school and before school since many of our planning periods are erased due to special student events and field trips.

I also think that specialist teacher meetings that take our supports out of the classroom should occur a month prior to the end of the year thus leaving our supports in place during the last few weeks of the year.  Teachers know that the transition that exists during the final days of the year bring about all kinds of feelings and behaviors in children similar to the transition at the start of the year.  And without the typical weekly supports, that creates a tough environment to teach in.

Just imagine that if rather than less support, you actually had more support during the final days of the year when students are often anxious or excited as they anticipate summer vacation and change.

I began the morning with a sigh as I anticipated a day without a planning period, an afterschool mandatory meeting and fewer supports that I typically rely on to run the class well.  But since I participated in the NOW leadership discussion on #leadfromwithin, I decided to turn that sigh into thoughts about how we can change a tough time of year to a celebratory time of year that centers staff efforts and time on the children in our charge.

How do you end your school year?  How do you make time for staff to thoughtfully place orders, plan for summer work and transition?  Do your classroom supports with regard to planning periods and staffing increase, decrease or stay the same at the end of the year?  Similar to lesson/unit choreography, choreographing the school year for best effect is important and at this time of educational change, it might be an area to re-look at with an eye on the future.
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