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End of the School Year Survival Guide- Tips To Get You Through

END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR... EXHAUSTION, STRESS, WANTING TO PULL YOUR HAIR OUT, eating poorly... perhaps you experience some or all of these as the warrior teacher you are, I know I do! By the time spring hits here in Maine, which really doesn't start until mid-April, the kids are squirrelly and I am done, stick a fork in me please. Couple that with all the special events happening in and out of school, routines going haywire, and a need to just SLEEP, it most definitely is the hardest time of year, at least in my opinion. Over the years, I've tried to institute some changes to the end of the year (as in the last two months!) to make it more manageable and enjoyable for me and my students. Here are some tips that have grown out of those changes:

End of School Year Guide and Tips for Teachers Spanish and French

*STICK TO YOUR ROUTINES: This doesn't mean don't do anything special, it means maintain the routines and expectations that you have worked so hard to put in place, and that, especially if you are an elementary teacher with potentially many years with these same kids, you don't want to lose. For ex, keep the beginning of class routines in place, such as your greeting or your welcome. Continue to remind and reinforce your expectations-it's very tempting to just let them slide now that you are exhausted and the kids are bonkers. But.... this is when holding to these expectations will pay off in terms of making the last weeks positive or negative. A rowdy, chaotic class is only fun for the ones being rowdy-everyone else, including many of their classmates, are not digging it. (SIDE NOTE: I know how HARD this one is, believe me!)

*PLAN FOR LESS "ACADEMIC" CONTENT: I wasn't quite sure how to word this, but the idea is relatively simple- when planning out your year, consider putting content at the end of the year that requires less intense focus on the part of students. This doesn't mean you throw content out the window altogether and swing from the rafters, but rather take into consideration the difficulty kids have at this time of year, and intentionallycmake that part of your planning process. For ex, my last theme of Fourth Grade is traditional card and board games-over the course of six weeks, I introduce a series of 4-5 games which we play in class and/or outside if the weather is nice. I still stick to our routines, kids are participating in cultural activities in the target language, and no one is taxed to the point of losing their mind. Win-win!

Planning the End of the School Year for Spanish and French Class

*BLAST FROM THE PAST: This is what I call our trip down memory lane :) The last few classes of the year are a great time to bring back old favorites, such as songs, games, activities, videos, etc-I love to not just revisit those from the current year, but ones from all the years we've been together. It's awesome to hear kids say, 'I remember that song from Kindergarten!'. Because these are familiar to kids, there is less 'effort' on your part to introduce them...and the bonus is you get to recycle some great content, too!

*HOLD KIDS ACCOUNTABLE: Related to the above 'stick to your routines', hold kids to the expectations you've established. Some kids just lose it at the end of the year, thinking they can get away with disruptive, wild behaviors. It's a no go. If a kiddo can't contribute to the community in a productive way, give yourself permission to give consequences-perhaps this is some time spent in the Take a Break space while the rest of the class is playing a game, or off to the Buddy Classroom while the class goes outside... whatever makes sense for your class and school. Lose of privilege is a natural consequence that can be effective, especially if held to consistently. www.responsiveclassroom.org has some great articles about this!

*HEAD OUTSIDE: With the weather warming up, going outside is an obvious option. Choose activities that have structure, involve ALL your students (nothing like an activity where they have to take turns to devolve into mayhem and frustration), and don't require extensive instructions (you will lose them to the dandelions, rocks, and twigs if your instructions are too involved!). Scavenger hunts, chalk flags, traditional games like hopscotch, jump rope, circle games, etc are great, low prep activities for the outdoors. You could also bring out a basket of books and enjoying some reading time in the sun :) A NOTE: Going outside does require some pre-teaching, modeling and reminding of appropriate behaviors prior to heading out-don't skip this step! :)

*BE SENSITIVE TO YOUR STUDENTS: Lastly, but perhaps the most important- many of our kiddos are not excited about the end of the year, many are anxious or stressed about moving to the next grade level or building, and many students dread summer vacation which can be an absolute nightmare for them-being home for some of these kiddos is a horror show. Often, these emotions present as disruptions, explosions, melt downs and defiant or argumentative behaviors. As hard as it is, being a positive and constant adult in these kids' lives is crucial. To that end, being careful in how you reference summer and vacation is important-take into consideration that these kids won't react positively to a 'Who's excited for summer vacation?' or 'Only 23 days til vacation!'. Consider trying to frame vacation as a bridge 'We'll be seeing each again really soon!' or 'I can't wait to see you again in September!'. :)

HERE'S A LIST OF SOME MORE GREAT ACTIVITIES TO DO FOR THE END OF THE YEAR!
*5 Traditional Board Games from Spanish Speaking Countries
*Reloj, a card game from Spain
*Yearbook Activity in Spanish and in French
*Doodle Pages- Draw and Share
*Make Tissue Paper Flowers
*Minute to Win It Games for Spring

How do you end the year? Let me know in the comments!

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