5 Tips For Making the MOST of the Last Month of School

May is here & the 2014-2015 school year is winding down. Often times students and educators alike do a “countdown” to the last day of school…I, on the other hand, have already started my countdown to the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year!

Here are some tips I use to make the most of the last month of school:

1)   Continue Routines- Teaching & Learning routines must continue with as much intensity as they have throughout the entire year. Students need to understand we as educators value everyday we have them in our classrooms/schools…whether it is day 1 or day 175. High levels of learning and engagement must be the norm at all times.  As a Principal, it is important I continue the routine of classroom walkthroughs and observations, regardless if my formal evaluation paperwork is done or not. This is a routine student’s & teachers are used to, and it matters in the culture of learning.

2)   Manage Disruptions- It’s very important that the last month of school doesn’t become “one huge field trip.” I, of all people, LOVE a good field trip! I see the educational & social values of trips and encourage these throughout the year. I emphasize the importance of spreading such trips out across the year so every part of our school year can have valuable learning both on and off campus. The key to a great field trip is planning ahead, incorporating in-class lessons, and managing time. Students’ won’t remember field trips if they have 5 in two weeks that had nothing to do with what’s been going on in their classes. But, if they have 5 field trips strategically spread out throughout the year, all with learning units tied to them; it’s going to be quality, memorable learning!

3)   Fun & Field Day…ISN’T JUST FOR ELEMENTARY!-  As a PreK-12 Principal, I have experienced the “Joys” of Fun & Field Day; I have seen how much this means to my Elementary students & parents as well.  This is a fun afternoon where we celebrate the great learning our students have done throughout the year with all kinds of fun (& wet) outdoor games.  My High School Students pointed out to me…”HEY- we have been LEARNING & working hard too- we want a Fun & Field Day!” I couldn’t argue there…they do work extremely hard…it just never occurred to me they would want their own “Fun & Field Day!” Some genius teachers put together a High School version; an afternoon of music, fun, & outdoor games for our High School students. It’s a great idea…sometimes you just have to listen to your students!

4)   Data Plan- You have a TONS of great data on your students that you can use to prepare for the next school year…make sure you are using it continuously now in regrouping students for RTI. Keep all of your DATA Folders/Notebooks up to date. As a teacher/principal you don’t want to “start from scratch” in August…you should be starting with updated Data Folders & be in GREAT SHAPE! This is something that should be updated often & kept to help all of us best meet the needs of our students. This helps us DO BETTER for each of our individual students!

5)   Plan for Summer- Some of your students AREN’T excited about summer. They have less than ideal homes to spend their summers; some may not even have food to eat. As educators we need to be working on finding summer program offerings for students, here at my school we have a 21st CCLC which is a great after & summer school program for our students. However, often programs aren’t available on some campuses.  If this is the case for you, work to find a program available nearby for your students to attend. As a Principal, I work a 245 Day contract; this enables me to be available to students throughout the summer.  I make sure students know that I will be on campus if they need me.  I even have several of my students who I supervise on campus for a Federal “Workforce” program; this is a public program that provides jobs for students of low-income families. This is definitely something I would suggest you look into if you haven’t accessed that for your students.

I know people think I’m crazy when I say this, but my least favorite time of year is when kids aren’t in school; HERE’S TO A SHORT SUMMER!

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