There are so many reasons to love the end of the year! And I am not just talking about summer break! It is a time where all of your hard-work as a teacher finally prevails and your students graduate. This is a struggle only continuation school teachers know. The one of begging, pleading, and encouraging your students to not give up. Making those phone calls home to parents or even employers to let them know about the importance of their student finishing. If they just take one week off work they can work full-time all summer! It is one of letting students know that they can be successful after high school and helping them find a direction so they don't have the "Oh my god, what am I going to do now that nobody is telling me what direction to go and if I fail it will be because of me and nobody else, because I can't blame it on my teacher for not giving me my credits anymore" anxiety.
It is exhausting, but on graduation day it is so worth it!
This year I wanted to change up my usual end of the year routine and do some special things for my Seniors that I thought I would share. We always have had students participate in Prom and Gradnite, but we wanted to do some other things to celebrate them that were very successful!
First, the teacher that does our Yearbook every year, up until this year made it as a slideshow on a DVD so it can be less expensive, because as we all know, we work with some of the lowest income students in our community and we know price is important for participation and equity. This year she worked in TreeRing www.treering.com and we got a paper yearbook! I thought this was the best and bought one for $28. It was so worth it! I had all my students sign my yearbook and it was the encouragement I needed to hear after a particularly disappointing year. It reaffirmed that I did show my students the respect I wanted to convey, that my smile and good attitude did rub off on them and more than anything...they knew what I was doing. They let me know that my presence made them want to come to school and encouraged them go graduate. I did motivate my students and my conscious effort to smile a lot made a difference. Which is one of those funny things I made a goal for myself to do more since I am not a natural smiler...and I guess it made a difference.
The second thing that I always do and love is an end of the school year survey. I always have a couple of students that for lack of better words "stink", but for the most part I get really good feedback. This year I added a question to ask if students took the entrance exam to the local community college and what they placed into. I usually have a good number of students that place into English 101, well this year was not the case, but I have that data that shows we need to work on this to prepare students for their future. You can download it below. If you would like me to send you the pages or word version, just shoot me an email.
Third, was new for me this year. I wanted to do something to really visually motivate students to graduate. So I made a graduation board in my classroom and it started those conversations about who was graduating, what classes they needed to pass and how I could help them. When they graduated I put their photo in a card and wrote some inspiring words. It was one of those teary moments and something I will do every trimester from here on out.
What are some great things your school does to encourage and celebrate your students at the end of the year?