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    5 Unique, Fun, Original Ways Teachers Celebrate the End of Year

    by Ellen Ullman, on May 2, 2024 2:37:59 PM

    From the last bell ringing to the final exam graded, the end of the school year is a culmination of months of hard work by students and teachers as well as a time for celebration. Although lots of people think teachers spend their summers lounging by the poolside, we know the reality is quite different, with many teachers working part-time jobs, doing personal and professional development, and—hopefully—taking a well-deserved break with opportunities for reflection and rejuvenation. 

    Amidst the festivities, teachers also prioritize communication and engagement, fostering connections with colleagues, students, and parents to reflect on the year’s achievements and lay the groundwork for the next chapter in their educational journey.

    So, how do teachers say farewell to another academic year? Let’s have a quick look!

    Make a Memory Book
    “On the first day, I have students draw a picture of themselves. They draw another picture of themselves on the last day of school. Both pictures go in their memory book, along with their thoughts on their favorite subject, field trip, and book; the classroom pet, who they sat with at lunch, etc. Students fill out their books and get autographs from their classmates. I make up certificates for Most Creative, Best at Math, Strongest Listener, etc. Everyone gets a certificate to showcase their strengths. I save some of their work throughout the year and put it in their books as well. The books are a wonderful snapshot of their time in first grade.”
    —Irene Farmer, 1st-grade teacher, Burlington (MA) Public Schools  

    Royal Ball
    “We used to host a Royal Ball. The kids dressed up and we had a chocolate fountain and tea sandwiches. We watched Cinderella (the Rodgers & Hammerstein version) and, a few times, had someone come in and teach the kiddos a couple of dances. The teachers wore gowns and tiaras. It was so much fun!”
    —Debbie Barbuto, former 2nd-grade teacher,  North Syracuse (NY) Central School District

    Secret Agent Ceremony
    “My students are secret agents. On the last day of school, they all wear matching shirts (see photos below) with their secret agent number on the back. (If they can’t afford a shirt, the school purchases one.) Families are invited in for the ceremony, and if they can’t come in person they can attend virtually. I read the book, What Do You Do With an Idea?, which encourages students to go out and put a dent in the universe. I write a speech and recognize every student, describing what they will be like when they are 30 years old. You have to know your kids to write that. I insert class jokes and innuendos. It takes me a week to write it! Students come up, one at a time, receive their certificate, take a secret agent “oath” promising to continue their education, be curious, and discover new things, and sign the secret agent book. I have 24 classes of students in the book. We write a time capsule letter, and when they graduate from high school they are invited to come to a dinner where I read the same speech and we look at the capsule. Some students show up to the reunion in a larger Secret Agent shirt. It’s a great full circle.”
    —Rayna L. Freedman, Ed.D., 5th-grade teacher, Mansfield (MA) Public Schools



    A Modern Twist on Game Day 
    “Some middle school students can get bored with traditional speech therapy, so I make it project-based. We design games as a group and individually, and the students work on comprehension, regulating emotions, persuasive conversations, and other higher-level skills. At the end of the year, they host a game day (see photos below) to reveal and play the board games they’ve developed. The game design process and event hosting allows them to apply their social and communication skills. Last June, the building principal and school resource officer came. It was so much fun for the students to hang out with administrators in a playful and positive setting. Both sides saw a different perspective. For my students, the game days are a wonderful sense of accomplishment and space to celebrate something they’ve worked so hard on. They can take the experience with them.” 
    —Kim Zajac, grades 6-8 speech & language pathologist, audiologist, and communication specialist, Norton (MA) Public Schools



    Move-Up Day
    “On the last day of school, students go through their schedule for the next year, meet all their new teachers, and get an overview of the classes they will be taking. The rising seniors participate in something called Move-Up Mission; they have a big party the night before and come to school in their new senior t-shirts and generally make a ruckus while celebrating their new status as seniors. They bring noisemakers, Silly String, wear crazy hats, and play loud music throughout the day. It’s a fun tradition for them.”
    —Stephanie Pollak, English 12, Intro to Psych, and A.P. Psychology teacher, Glen Ridge (NJ) Public Schools 

    Topics:Classroom TipsClassroomEnd of School YearActivities