Core scripture: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Message: I am like a kid in the candy store this time of year. I awake early each morning, sit down in my comfy black leather chair, coffee with hazelnut cream in hand, and I simply talk to the Lord. I ask Him … How can You use me today? How can I get through to my students one last time? What can I do to make a difference in their life?
You will hear lots of teachers in the lounge roll their eyes this time of year, saying stuff like, “Only one week to go!” I wish they would add four words to that sentence: to make a difference. You see, the Christian teacher is a different species. We count down the days we have left to impact our students one last time. We don’t give up. We leave it all on the table.
As we wind down into that final chaotic week of school, I wanted to make this blog as applicable as possible. I want to list a plethora of ideas that I have used or plan on using to make my students feel special one last time. Some of these ideas I will be using this year. Others I have used before and simply won’t have time for. Without further ado, let’s get down to it!
- Play an up tempo, high energy song as your students enter your classroom. I like using the old Chicago Bulls Theme Song. As the first student enters your room, begin announcing them as if you were announcing them into a championship game!
- Let your students reflect on the year. Have them write a letter of advice to next year’s students on how to succeed. Allow them to write not just about succeeding in academics but in friendships, sports, clubs, and other extra-curricular activities.
- Mix up the setting. Take your students outside for a change. Take advantage of the beautiful May weather. But don’t just go outside and do nothing. Make it intentional. Have fun with a kickball game. Let them write poetry about nature. Or even just read aloud to them.
- Create awards to give out! This year I am doing my awards a little different. I am typing each kid’s name on a certificate and assigning them to awards that show them how I will remember them. One kid got the Basketball Award. Another got the Fantasy Writing Award. I also added a couple pictures of things they love to personalize each award.
- Write a song about your kids! Perform it live in front of them, like Weird Al Yankovich. Take a popular song they listen to and put your own lyrics to it celebrating your students. I have had more fun through the years celebrating my kids with fun songs!
- Teach life lessons. I cannot stress this enough! Show them a short video clip. Something motivational that will spark discussion. And then talk about it. Ask them questions that linger. Share stories from your life that revolve around that theme.
- Do a following directions activity. Create a document that has a large paragraph of directions at the top. The last sentence should say something like “only do the directions below that follow our curriculum.” Then create a list of 20-30 directions, only four or five that are curriculum related and the rest are goofy things like do 10 jumping jacks or high five someone with a blue shirt. Make it sound like a contest to see who can get done the quickest, then laugh at them as they make fools of themselves. Finish by having a discussion about being leaders and followers. Ask how many were doing the goofy stuff just because they saw everyone else doing it. Talk about a powerful life lesson!
- Tell them stories about your life. Kids love stories! And if you have a story that teaches them a valuable lesson that will stick, why not share it? One time my brother Curt was tragically injured in Iraq and was flown home to Walter Reed Hospital for emergency surgery to save his life. Although tragic, this allowed my brother to be in my wedding. I tell this story because it shows that something good can come from something bad.
- Write notes to your students. Every one of them deserves a note. Thank them for their efforts. Celebrate their successes. Challenge them with advice. Let each note be filled with an authentic love that will make that kid feel special.
- Go see them outside of school at their events. Wave hi to them at their soccer game. Give them a high five or fist bump after their cheer competition. Connecting with kids outside of class is something they will remember forever. I still remember Kelly Utley, my amazing 8th Grade Language Arts teacher at Leawood Middle School, attending ALL of my B-team basketball games, cheering loudly in the stands. That meant the world to me.
- Have lunch with your kids. Let your guard down, and allow them to do the same. I let my 5th hour students eat lunch in my room every Friday. Guess which class I have bonded with the most? We watch sports videos together. We laugh. We poke fun at each other, and we fellowship. It will be hardest to see that group move on.
- Show a movie with meaning. Something motivational. Something that will get them thinking. Something they have not seen. Not just a goofy animated movie that has no purpose other than to fill time. Some suggestions for middle schoolers: Rudy, Stand and Deliver, The Pursuit of Happiness, Remember the Titans, Freedom Writers, Coach Carter, or Soul Surfer.
I wish I could go on. I really do! But in minutes my Cougar Time will come trickling into my classroom. It is time to put my teaching hat on. Don’t give up. Make every moment intentional this last week. Finish strong.
Challenge: Wrap up the year in a memorable way! Pick from any of the activities above or create your own amazing ideas to send your students off the right way. Do you have something fun or original worthy of being shared? Reply to this blog below and let others know about it!
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord in prayer …
- Pray that your lessons the last week of school will fit your students’ needs.
- Praise God for the opportunity to celebrate our students one last time.
- Pray that our students will see Christ in us, choosing to follow Him as well.
Just for fun: Check out this amazing teacher meme I found this morning.
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us one final week to celebrate our students. May we send them off the way You need us to. Amen.