In my book, Last Day Blues, the students in Mrs. Hartwell’s class worry that she will be sad when the school year ends and will spend the summer wishing she were back in school. As the students try to think of ways to ease Mrs. Hartwell’s sadness, they also look back at the high and low points of their own school year and look forward to the joys awaiting them in the summer.
Obviously, the story serves as a way to get students thinking and talking about their own school year and also about summer and beyond.
But taking a bit of a deeper dive, this story can be the beginning of a discussion on how to deal with change or with transitions. And when you think about it, students get lots of practice with change. Every year they move from a familiar setting into a new one. New teacher. New friends. New rules. New learning. Sometimes even a new building.
No matter what the age of the listener, Last Day Blues can provide a jumping off point to discuss more specifically, the idea of change or transition, and allow students the opportunity to think through and come up with some concrete behaviors or thoughts to help them handle not only the change they are facing in a few days, but also the one coming up next school year.
To try this in your classroom, have them follow the lead of the students in Last Day Blues. They can start by identifying all of the people, activities, and experiences that they enjoyed and that they will miss.
Then turn their thoughts to the joys and challenges that lie ahead, during the summer and into the next school year. What are they looking forward to? What are they worried about? What do they think it will it be like?
And finally, have your students discuss how to make this transition to their next school year successful. Can they talk to people who have already gone through it? What skills are needed to be successful next year? Is there a way to practice or acquire those skills? How? Is it important to identify one’s worries about next year? Why or why not?
Although this is just a brief introduction into the bigger idea of transitions, it might help students to see that they have some ownership of how that change goes. Pushing it even further, you could have students write down their answers and share them with parents in order to facilitate discussion at home.
Hopefully, this simple exercise will help students appreciate their LAST DAY BLUES a little more AND help them look forward to their new situation, whatever it is, without any FIRST DAY JITTERS. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist 😊)