GUESS WHAT?! You made it. We’re in the home stretch of the school year!
You and your students, and/or your own children, and/or your colleagues, friends, neighbors, we all made it through another year of teaching and learning, and social and emotional development! This calls for a celebration!
Why It’s Important to Celebrate
The very act of celebrating large or small accomplishments and milestones is advantageous to the continuing evolution of the human species. According to Austin’s own Two Guys on Your Head,
…[As] a species, humans can imagine long-term goals, but it’s very hard to wrap our heads around how to achieve them without setting short-term goals that will help us get to where we want to be. Therefore, acknowledging the accomplishment of each small step along the way, helps to propel us on.
And, we humans do love to celebrate! So, now you’re probably wondering how we celebrate our students and ourselves in a way that honors what we did this year, and builds excitement for all of our accomplishments yet to come?
The End of the School Year: It’s Kind of a Big Deal!
According to this excellent EduTopia post, it’s critical for educational communities to “celebrate learning, celebrate the moments you’ve had, and savor the time you have left together” in the classroom. The post has a lovely list of great end-of-the-year ideas, like a symbolic class toast (with bottles of water of course!), or a red-carpet style awards ceremony. The community-building and closure that occurs as a result of intentional celebration pave the way for future learning and growth.
Another way to cement relationships and forge emotional connections to the year’s learning is to collaboratively create a class play list of Power Songs! Zaretta Hammond writes this in her Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain blog:
Collectivist cultures understand that music is one of the most powerful neurobiological tools we have to change our mood, mindset, and behavior. It is used as a mental trigger, a social binder, and a cognitive memorizer. Science shows that music can help alleviate depression and help a person feel more hopeful and in control of their life.
This idea could also kick off a tradition of creating a class power song play list at the beginning of the year, using it all year long, and then playing the songs at the end of the year during a culminating celebration! Just a thought!
What About Families Celebrating the End of the School Year?
The transition from school time to summer time is significant for families as well as classrooms! Simple, fun activities and intentional moments to mark the end of the year can help build and reinforce family relationships and forge connections between home and school. Here are some celebratory ideas from the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) Today site, and here are some especially for older students from Chicago Now!
Remember to Celebrate Yourself Too!
May is a beautiful time to check in with your own self-care practices, and consider doing some intentional self-compassion and SELebration. Make a list of gratitudes! Find a time for a pedicure or a massage! Read some self-care ideas and affirmations from other teachers in our district here and here! And make sure you remember how valued you are, and how far your work reaches! We are super grateful for all you do. Thank you for being our partner in creating safe, inclusive environments for our students. Happy May!