Supporting Students in Closing Out the School Year
Traditionally, when the academic year closes, schools provide a variety of activities and events to support students with their end-of-school-year transitions. These closure activities are important for students. They help to securely conclude relationships and routines and build the social-emotional skills needed for accepting change, managing complex feelings and planning for the future. For these closure activities at a time when educational activity is taking place remotely, educators may facilitate remote lesson plans that guide students in identifying accomplishments throughout the year, recall favorite memories or plan for the next school year. Activities such as classroom parties and award ceremonies provide students the opportunity to reflect on the past year, say goodbye to friends, teachers and staff, and close the chapter on the current school year as part of transitioning to next year.
The end of the school year transition events for the 2019-2020 school year will look very different but still are possible. Below are sample ideas for remotely supporting students with end-of-school-year transitions while maintaining social distancing.
- Design an assignment where staff and students reflect on their favorite school year moments and capture this through drawings, songs, vlogs or narratives. Educators also can facilitate this conversation with their classrooms in virtual class meetings and design small breakout sessions where students have the option to share. Older students may have deeper reflection questions.
- Coordinate an activity where students create a “positive memory bag” with household items to remember their favorite school year moments. Have students consider the times of year they were both in the building and remotely learning and give them the option to share. The educator can do the same to model this.
- Facilitate class activities or discussions that explore students’ feelings related to the end of the school year, the summer and next school year. This may include frustrations or sadness with the cancellation of activities or not being able to physically say goodbye to friends, school staff or the school environment. Validate their feelings and include the school counselor in the discussion, if necessary.
- Facilitate class activities or discussions that explore the concept of transitions, endings and new beginnings.
- Create an end-of-year countdown that is reviewed during virtual classes and shared with parents to use in the home.
- Support students practicing the skill of gratitude by having them reflect on students, staff or family members who helped them during the school year and write thank you notes for them. These notes can be shared electronically through video, dropped off when families pick up personal items at the school or mailed directly to the school.
- Staff can send emails, letters or postcards to students with special memories from the year and goodbye wishes.
- Create and share a video of pictures from the school year with well wishes for next year.
- Allow students to write or virtually record goodbye messages to their friends. These can be sent to the teacher who shares those messages with the identified peers.
- Host a virtual end-of-school-year party allowing students to say goodbye to each other and staff.
- Organize drive-thru events allowing families to pick up personal items from the school. This could include teachers in the parking lot with banners saying goodbye. Social distancing protocols should be diligently observed, stay distant and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people.
- Ask parents to take end-of-school-year pictures and send the first day of school picture with the end-of-year picture. Use these to create a class video or virtual presentation.
- Plan hand-off events for milestone transitions such as elementary to middle school and middle to high school. This could include hosting a class meeting with current teachers and teachers from the new school or a virtual field trip to the new school.
- Send electronic or mailed communication to families to close the school year with them. Praise their efforts and ensure them that staff are planning for the next school year. This can help parents feel secure that when school restarts in the fall, their children will be safe, healthy and receiving quality academic instruction.
- Collect ideas from students about how they would like to celebrate the return to school next year.
Ohio Schools Thinking Outside the Box
The following are some examples from schools that may serve to inspire closure and transition activities.
- One elementary school continued with its annual talent show by producing the event virtually. Students recorded themselves ahead of time and submitted their recordings to the organizing staff. A video was created showing off the multiple talents of students and staff.
- One school placed goodbye notes from teachers in the students’ bags of personal belongings.
- One high school displayed banners of the high school athletes’ pictures throughout the city.
- Multiple schools hosted virtual spirit weeks. Staff and students sent pictures of themselves in their spirit gear, tagged the photo for social media or emailed to the school organizer to be shared daily through a video, posted on the webpage or added to the yearbook.
- An early childhood center organized a “reverse parade” where students could drive by the school and wave to teachers who were distanced in the parking lot.
- One district is providing yard signs for those in 5th and 8th grade to celebrate their transitions to the next schools.
Last Modified: 8/25/2021 3:23:39 PM