As a teacher I loved the last day of school. Obviously, I was looking forward to a summer of no more (school) reading, no more (school) books, no more student’s dirty looks. But it also provided the perfect time to look back and reflect on the year, to really think about and examine the successes, the failures and the things I wanted to work on for the next year.
When I taught middle school, one of my end-of-the-year activities was to have the students do their own reflection. I asked them to identify several high points and several low points of their school year, and it didn’t matter if they were academic, social or extra-curricular activities like the drama club or the art show. I also asked them to reflect on what they learned and how it might be important to their life going forward.
This was always a leisurely activity and the students had lots of time and leeway in terms of what to write about.
When they were done, we shared some of our insights. Of course, kids always had the opportunity to pass, but they rarely did.
Two years ago, when the day was done and the kids had left the building, I wrote this in my own journal, “Today we spent the day sharing our reflections on the ups and downs of the school year. I am touched by how noble and kind, motivated and even wise these seventh graders are when they take the time to put their thinking down on paper. A few kids wrote what they thought I wanted to hear (‘I learned to do my best no matter what it takes.’) but the majority wrote about the importance of accepting others, the desire to keep trying, the surprise that comes with learning something new and the pride that comes with success after hard work. Their sharing made me love them even more, sad to see the year end, and oh so grateful that I have gotten to spend this year with them!”
My end-of-the-year assignment always did leave me with a feeling of Last Day Blues….that is, until I locked my classroom door, walked into the parking lot, started my car, and drove head-first into the first day of summer vacation!