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?

  1. Organisation

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.

  1. 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??”

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

  1. Incentives

Use this strategy with caution here – they shouldn’t be a motivation just to do work that needs to be completed anyway, but more like a reward. You can use these as prizes in the games and activities. Kids are really easy; sometimes they don’t even realise they’re learning.

  1. 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!

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