Survive (and Enjoy) the End of the School Year

A MiddleWeb Blog

The end of the school year is hard. There is no way around this.

There are grades to be compiled, checked, and rechecked. There will be late work to grade – sometimes late, late, really late work. My students are tired and I am tired.

Last year I was very stressed out by the last day of school. I wanted to end this school year in a better frame of mind. So I have been very mindful about how I spend these last few weeks and what I want to accomplish (other than grades being completed!).

So I decided on 4 things:

1.) Get feedback for next year.
2.) Have some fun with math (of course).
3.) Document our year.
4.) Spend time with my students before they leave.

Everything that I mention below, I actually tried with my students and they enjoyed it, or it is something that I did and it helped me. I hope you can find something here you can use!

Get Feedback for Next Year

✻ End of Year Survey

I almost always give my students a Google form to fill out at the end of the year. I’ve learned a few things along the way. I am very specific with my questions. I have found out if I ask my students what I can do to improve, I typically get two responses. One is “I love you Mrs. Russell don’t change a thing.” The other is, “change everything I didn’t learn anything this year.”

Neither comment helps me improve. So instead I ask, “Did you learn more from taking notes or doing the Dominoes activity when we covered linear regression?”

Questions like that gives me some specific feedback that I can work with. I might have a half-dozen tailored to the content I teach. You can adapt for your own classes.

I still have a place where they can put general comments if they choose to. This year we received new curriculum so I had questions in my survey asking students their opinion about that.

I also have them turn in their responses anonymously. That way they feel free to be honest, and it helps me not take it personally because I don’t know who is responding (most of the time – some of the time I can tell).

✻ Class Survival Book

 I had my current students create this for my students next year. I get feedback from current students (in my case it was AP Statistics) and they give future students tips for how to be successful in the class.

Here are a few of the survival tips my students passed along to my future students: Pay attention. Write the notes. Actually study. Sit in the front. don’t sit in the back. Bring Mrs. Russell Dunkin coffee (LOL). Ask questions if you don’t understand it.

For more ideas visit 37 Awesome End of the Year Activities at Minds in Bloom.

Have Some Fun with Math

✻ Math trivia: How well do you know real numbers? My students loved this! We played it on my SmartBoard. It goes really quickly, and the game doesn’t regenerate so you can’t play it over and over. But it’s good activity if you have a few minutes. Find Math Trivia: How Well Do You Know Your Real Numbers? at HMH.

✻ Multiplication facts: My Algebra I students love playing games that require them to know their multiplication facts. We played this one several times: Can you name the numbers in the multiplication table? at Sporcle.

Document Our Year

I wanted my students to document our Algebra I class, just a little booklet that I could keep. I had no time to create a template myself, so I found a free free one on Teacher Pay Teachers.

I was a little nervous when I gave this sheet to my 10th graders. I thought they might think they were too old for this, and as I was handing them out I heard a student say, “We did something like this in kindergarten. This is great!”

I was surprised by how much they enjoyed the forms designed for younger kids. I had a classroom of 10th graders diligently filling this sheet out (and coloring it!). I bet your middle schoolers will have the same reaction,

I loved reading what the students said they would miss the most about our class and what words they would use to describe our class. I filled one out too, and we all had a good time! And the best part is, I have a keepsake from my Algebra class.

Spend Time with My Students

This seems like a no brainer, but this time of year is so busy. Even in my classes where I have seniors and they have already taken their AP Exams, I still have grades to compile and double and triple check.

However, going through the pandemic has made me appreciate getting to see my students face to face, and I want to spend a little time chatting with them about the past year and their future. My students are awesome, and I want them to know how much they mean to me. So I try to do more of my grading at home so that I can more present in various ways during their last days of school.

That’s my list of things I have been doing with my students. What about you?

I am as tired as always, but my stress level is much lower and I am much happier than in previous years. I am still teaching new material, and we still have our end of the year benchmarks to take, so I have to carefully budget our class time.

None of the activities I have listed take a lot of time (or prep), but they have made a big difference for me this year!

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell (@michel1erussel1) is a math teacher at Florence (AL) High School. She began her career as a student teacher in middle school and has taught students from 7th to 12th grade. For the past 13 years, she's taught high school math, including Algebra IB, Algebraic Connections, Pre-Calculus, AP Statistics, Algebra with Finance, and Algebra 2 with Trigonometry. In her free time, she enjoys reading books about math education and following other teachers on Twitter.

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