The End of Year School Survival Guide

This time of year is an interesting one; it can seem like the best time of year because you’re in the countdown towards the summer holidays, but it can also seem like the worst time. Because you’re in the countdown to the summer holidays…

Let me paint the picture; you’ve sent your reports home to parents so kids begin to think they are little bit untouchable at this point, kids keep asking you for things like class movies and class parties (why would you throw a party when they’ve been monsters most of the year), class focus has dropped to almost nothing – they don’t want to be there (but’s let’s be honest, neither do you), classes keep getting cancelled or the same students seem to now be always out of class for end of year events; so what can you teach that’s important?). So what do you do? How do you get through to the bitter end both mentally and physically?


As hard as it is at the end of the year, you have to be as well-planned as were are at the start of the year. Kids can smell weakness and will try and push your buttons, it’s what they do the best. I feel ya’ you’re tired, you need a rest, you’ve probably spent most nights and weekends writing final reports and marking final papers. Make it easy on yourself then and plan quizzes, revision sessions and keep a calendar of the weeks and days left.

Be firm and consistent

Students shouldn’t expect just to have fun and not work at the end of the year. Why would there be school if that was case? That’s what holidays are for. Keep true to your expectations, of course give opportunities for fun when deserved but don’t let the excuse be, “But Miss/Sir, it’s the end of the year – can’t we just have fun??”

In-class activities

Most schools will have policies in place that say teaching must continue to the bitter end. Senior Leadership will have probably announced this in the staff meeting. Let’s face it, your head you already know that the summer holiday fever is starting to hit the kids and whatever you teach you may have to reteach in September – if you do it with the ‘YOU MUST PAY ATTENTION TO ME ATTITUDE’. Learning games are a great trojan horse here – all kids want to do is have fun and play games – so why not? Kahoot! is a popular tool – Teachers and kids both love it – if you haven’t heard of it? Where have you been for the last few years?

Movie days – within reason – finding the justified movies/questions

So movies may be a bit more difficult to get past the gates. I know some departments disallow them completely. This trojan horse has to be well-planned and justified. Some classes will be easier than others….

English: most movies have already been made from books. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a classic for Key Stage 3 – plus cross-curricular – tie it in with History and the Holocaust

History: too easy – give me a challenge there. Historical dramas and documentaries are a dime a dozen nowadays.

Science: You haven’t trumped me yet – The Day after Tomorrow – all you have to do is analyse the science behind it.

Maths: You think I would slip up here – The Imitation Game ­­– you can’t go wrong with a good Cumberbatch movie, or even better Hidden Figures (again, History)

PE: Although to sit down and watch a movie in PE might not be fun, but there are some legendary iconic movies out there; The Blind Side, Chariots of Fire, Remember the Titans

Classics: Analyse what’s wrong with Disney’s Hercules

Geography: Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, although it may be a bit dry – but hey, remember it’s not cinema and popcorn time for your students

Music: Oh the list is endless here

It is paramount here, however, to emphasise that the students shouldn’t just assume that it’s time to kick back with snacks and watch a movie. Get them working for it; give them questions to answer, quizzes to write, stop and start it for learning opportunities. That should take up at least three lessons.

Effective Use of Incentives

At the tail end of the school year, maintaining student motivation can be particularly challenging. While it’s important to keep the academic rigor, smartly deployed incentives can make a significant difference. Here’s how to use incentives effectively without diluting educational goals:

1. Define Clear Objectives:

Before introducing any incentives, clarify what you aim to achieve with them. Whether it’s improving participation, boosting quiz scores, or encouraging teamwork, having clear goals ensures that the incentives serve a meaningful educational purpose rather than just being a bribe for expected behaviors.

2. Variety and Relevance:

Incentives should be varied and cater to different interests to keep students engaged. While some might be motivated by tangible rewards like stationery or extra recess time, others might appreciate intangible rewards like the opportunity to lead a class activity or choose a topic for discussion. Tailoring these rewards to align with educational outcomes can enhance their effectiveness.

3. Incorporate Educational Components:

To ensure that incentives remain educational, integrate them with learning objectives. For instance, you could set up a reward system where students earn points for each book they read or for each correct answer in a history quiz league. This makes the learning process competitive and fun without compromising educational integrity.

4. Timely and Fair Distribution:

Deliver rewards promptly to ensure that the connection between the desired behavior and the incentive is clear. Additionally, ensure that the system is fair and transparent so that all students feel they have an equal opportunity to earn rewards based on their efforts and achievements.

5. Review and Adapt:

Regularly assess the effectiveness of the incentive system. Are students more engaged? Are educational goals being met? Solicit feedback from the students about what’s working and what’s not. This will help you fine-tune the incentives to better meet the needs of your class.

6. Educational Reflection:

Encourage students to reflect on how the incentives have influenced their learning. This can be done through a quick discussion or a reflective writing session. It helps students internalize the value of what they’ve learned and understand the benefits of staying motivated.

By thoughtfully integrating incentives into your end-of-year teaching strategy, you can keep the classroom environment both fun and fruitful. Remember, the ultimate goal is to enhance learning while also keeping spirits high as the school year wraps up.

Student becomes the Teacher

A great revision tool and a way to let those students feel empowered. Take a seat and let your students take the reins – challenge them to teach their peers – either about something learnt during the year or cool new research topics. You’ll be amazed at their imagination, especially if they find something they’re interested in.

Of course, I’m not saying class parties should not be a thing – they’re always a fun year closer – but don’t waste the gold here; do it for the classes that deserve it and those students that actually value you as a teacher. Do it as way of celebrating their learning success during the year rather than celebrating the fact that they have a summer holiday coming up.

You’ve made it to the end of the year – pat yourself on the back and have a break. Enjoy the time you have left with the students. To be honest, the end of the year is probably the best time for freedom in the teaching. There is less expectation by national standards and more to build on enrichment and interest, cherish it.

Then, remember staff drinks at 1pm on the last day at the local pub! You’ve earned it!

Key Takeaways from The End of Year School Survival Guide

As the school year winds down, it’s essential to remember that this period, while challenging, also holds numerous opportunities for enrichment and joy. Here are some key takeaways to help teachers, parents, and students make the most out of the final weeks:

1. The Importance of a Good Sport Attitude:

End-of-year activities, including the school play and various classroom games, provide a platform for demonstrating sportsmanship. Encouraging students to be good sports, whether they’re in middle school or high school, can make school events more enjoyable for everyone involved.

2. Utilizing School Resources:

The end of the semester is a crucial time to utilize all school resources effectively. This includes technology for assignments, communication tools for coordinating with parents, and creative resources for making classes engaging.

3. Effective Homework Strategies:

Homework doesn’t disappear even as the school year comes to a close. Teachers can help students manage their workload by providing clear, concise assignments that reinforce the year’s learning, ensuring students are prepared but not overwhelmed.

4. Communicating with Parents:

Open lines of communication with parents can help reinforce the home-school connection. Sharing tips on how they can support their children’s learning and preparation for the next academic year can make a significant difference.

5. Making Friends and Building Networks:

Encourage students to reflect on the friendships they have built over the year and the importance of maintaining these relationships. Friends can be crucial support networks, especially when transitioning to a new school year or facing academic challenges.

6. Preparing for the First Day of the Next School Year:

While the focus may be on wrapping up the current year, it’s also a time to start preparing students for the next first day of school. Discuss what they can expect and how they can prepare over the summer, turning any feelings of apprehension into excitement.

7. Advice for New Teachers:

For teachers who have just completed their first year, reflect on the lessons learned and how these insights can be applied to the next year. Seasoned teachers should consider mentoring newcomers by sharing effective strategies and personal experiences.

8. Facing Fears and Anxiety:

Address the fears and anxieties that both students and parents might feel about the end of the school year and the transition ahead. Discuss strategies to deal with change and the unknown, emphasizing the support available through the school community.

9. Life Lessons from the Classroom:

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on the broader life lessons learned throughout the school year. Encourage students to think about how these lessons apply not only to their academic careers but also to personal growth.

10. The Difference a Semester Makes:

Highlight the growth and achievements of students over the semester. Reflecting on their progress can boost their confidence and motivation, preparing them not just academically but also emotionally for the challenges ahead.

By keeping these key points in mind, the end of the school year can be transformed from a stressful period into a celebration of the accomplishments made and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

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