Core scripture: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Message: I am in a bit of a pickle with one of my classes. They are a sweet group of 15 students. A lot less than any other class. They might be the most difficult to say goodbye to. While I wrap up paying tribute to all the other students in my other classes, this class will be finished. I see this as a positive. Oh, the possibilities with this amazing group! Inspirational videos. Words of wisdom. Fun activities. Getting them up and moving around will be essential. A few of them can barely stay in their seats! To fight the good fight, we must finish stronger than the normal teacher. To this second, I am still contemplating how to end. Here are some ideas:
- Perform a compliment train. Sit or stand your students in a circle. Hold a ball in your hands. The rule is that every kid must get a positive, specific compliment from someone else. You model it first. Pick a kid that more than likely won’t get a compliment and shower them with praise. That kid gets the ball, and they have to compliment someone else. If you see anyone stuck, tell them to pass it back to you, and you get to keep the train on track.
- Show an inspirational video. Since focus is lacking, choose a video that is between two to five minutes. But don’t stop there. Discuss it. Let the kids play with the thoughts that are there. Have them do a think-pair-share activity, standing up and moving around, to break down the thoughts. Just be sure you research the videos beforehand. Never show a video without watching it! Too many times a student will suggest you watch something that may embarrass or be inappropriate to share. Keep the messages positive!
- Tell a story. Who doesn’t love story time? This could be a unique story of your own life or the story of someone else. It could even be completely made up! How would they know, right? The point is to fill them with wisdom through a story that teaches a life lesson. Make the story something that this class specifically needs to hear. One of the most difficult things for a middle schooler to do is stand up for the underdog when the rest are not. I have a story in my pocket that is sure to inspire them.
- Play a song. I want to play a few songs about the power of words. My students have struggled this year by saying the words, “Shut up!” too much. Hawk Nelson’s “Words” and Toby Mac’s “Speak Life” are two amazing songs that would be perfect to help out. We NEED those positive words to get through the last week! I plan on letting the class pick between those two songs and then discussing the power of words following. It gets real cool when students share a story or two that add fuel to the fire of inspiration. And it always helps to have a story of your own ready too.
- Pass the torch. Let your students know just how much they have learned this school year and give them the opportunity to impart wisdom on your students next fall. Have them write a letter, or if you are tech savvy, have them create a video to give advice to next year’s students. This will make them feel important. Even the lowest of the low can feel special here knowing that their words of encouragement could make a difference.
What about you? Do you have an activity or idea you could share with others? I am just one teacher. It would be quite powerful if we combined our minds together to ALL give each other advice on how to finish strong. Just remember that each class is unique. One size does NOT fit all! Some of mine lack maturity. One of my activities blew up in my face yesterday because of that. (Note to self … never try the compliment train with a class that struggles with yelling out.) Take note of your failures to make the next class’s experience that much more effective. Allow students choices, but guide them the right way. Through it all, don’t forget to pray for the Lord’s wisdom on how to reach out.
Challenge: Brainstorm ideas to finish strong with your students, giving them what they need. Don’t go down without a fight. Finish strong!
Song application: “Never Once” by Matt Redman
Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Video application: To choose only one Nick Vujicic video to share is like trying to find only one scripture to share about love—there are too many to pick from! One of my favorites is Nick speaking about finishing strong and getting back up after taking a fall. Here is the link:
Quote: “Don’t give up. And know that there is always someone out there who believes in you and who loves you just the way that you are.” (Nick Vujicic)
Bible story: Read the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man in Mark 2:1-12. How does faith play a role in this story with the men who moved the paralytic? What do you look forward to healing the most, physically or spiritually, when you meet Jesus in heaven? I look forward to seeing people like Nick Vujicic on the other side.
Prayer: Lord, may the last week of school be a week where we fight the good fight up to the last minute. When the final bell sounds, may we know we have given every ounce of strength to finish strong. Amen.