“So go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.” Oprah Winfrey
As each school year comes to an end, I think of the fall season. Students reflect on what they have learned and pull it all together to present to their parents. Teachers think about next year and how they might improve. Parents consider and request the best situation for their children in the year to come.
Summarizing and concluding well are an essential part of the end of the year. This needs to happen in a timely fashion and before the last leaf falls. We have essentially twenty days left, and each one needs to be important.
Contrary to what many believe, these last days are for consolidating, not for time-wasting. Every good teacher knows it’s important to finish well.
How can we accomplish a worthy final finish?
Summarize and reflect on accomplishments: Each year it’s helpful to go back through the months and remind students of different projects they have completed during the year. They can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when we help them pull it all together.
Shine a light on growth: I’ve learned that data can speak loudly to students and to parents. I like to let students keep a snapshot of their work at different times throughout the year. Then, it’s easy to let students show off what they have learned. Let them write about what seemed difficult and what they found helpful. Let them look back at old papers and reflect on how they have improved.
Challenge the strengths and the weaknesses: I love the book Strengths Finder. If you haven’t read it in a while, you might want to review it. This book focuses on the fact that we spend so much of our time trying to fix our weaknesses. Instead, we should be spending as much or more time getting better at our strengths. We can help our students do this too. Each year we can give examples of ways a student can get better at their strengths and improve (but not harp on) the weaknesses.
To all of my teachers and friends, I challenge us to work together to finish well. When we see a friend falling short, let’s lift them up and point them toward the finish line. Nobody wants to finish well and find that they are standing at the finish line by themselves. A close race is always more interesting!
“Finishing a good book is like leaving a good friend.” William Feather