Wrapping up the school year is always so bittersweet. You’ve made such progress with your current group of students but you’re also looking forward to a much deserved and needed break!
We couldn’t resist the urge to do an “end of year round-up” before letting you shut off the lights and walk out the door for the last time on your 2013/14 classroom — so here it is: the good, the great, and the amazing.
TpT Celebrates the Good in Goodbye
Make New Friends but Keep the Old:
You’re never too old to have a BFF — some are lucky enough to get to work together. Lindsay Keegan said, “This year I was able to co-teach with my best friend before we both move away from our school. It was such an amazing experience and I feel like we have both grown so much as educators.” They’re prepping for their farewell with a Kindergarten End of the Year Writing Review Book.
Another power duo: Two Nuts Teaching from the Same Tree say, “The best part of this year was having a chance to work with my TpT partner and teaching partner, Mollie. Last year was our first year teaching together and it was a last minute change after Mollie’s previous grade-level was decreased by one section. It didn’t take long before we realized how well we worked together. I know without a doubt I had a bigger impact on my kiddos because of the work Mollie and I were able to do together.” They’ve got a Memory Book that’s sure to become a keepsake.
Rainbow City Learning’s sure she had the best class EVER… “My favorite part of this year has been building the relationships with my class. We are like a family now, and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye. I told them on the first day that a mistake had been made in the office, and all of the best students had been assigned to my class. I said, ‘normally the top students are divided among all of the 4th grade classes, but not this year. Shhh… let’s keep that a secret so they’ll let us stay together!’ So, self fulfilling prophecy, they ARE all the best students! This has been the best year of all my 36 years in the classroom. It’s bittersweet, though, because they are also my last class. I’ll be retiring in 5 weeks.” We say congratulations to you Rainbow City Learning! Check out her Rock Star Students cards that her kids have been collecting in preparation for their final celebration.
This precious teacher memory is from Rosie’s Resources.”Today was one of my favorite days of all times. A 4th grader who moved away a month ago wrote me a letter. She included a picture of herself and me holding hands under a rainbow. The caption said ‘I love you, Mrs. Kasper.'” Such a great feeling! See her End of Year Activities and Memory Book.
TpT’ers Found Their Sweetest Rewards in New Challenges:
This one from Schoolhouse Divas is powerful: “I am an educational diagnostician, so I work with students with disabilities. I have a student who came in during the year with serious academic and behavioral deficits. He was practically nonverbal, was unable to have meaningful conversations, and had difficulty simply subtracting one digit numbers. He spent his recess playing by himself, walking around the perimeter of the playground. Well, our special education teacher is amazing, and he is now speaking to kids in his classroom. He has engaged in some activities with friends and has made progress in the classroom. He even passed the state math assessment! I cannot believe the progress that was made in just a few short months!” Give her When I Grow Up… Classroom Awards a try.
Jenna Rayburn started work in a new district this year — did it slow her down? Not a chance! “It meant meeting a ton of new speech kids and families. My favorite part of the year came a few months in when I had a sweet kiddo write me a note telling me he was thankful I came to work at his school!” You’re bound to find a useful resource in Jenna’s MAY Speech and Language Super BUNDLE.
Positive Attitudes Pay Off in Big Ways:
A trip to remember! Mark Aaron’s best memory of this year? “My favorite part of the year was the four-day outdoor education program that I took my 6th grade class on. Surfing, kayaking, sailboarding, bike riding, sand castle building… I am very fortunate to work for a school that values and allows me to teach the ‘whole child’ in this way.” Golly Mark, you sure are! And good for you for enjoying it. For a fun end-of-year activity, try Mark’s Odd One Out game (it’s free).
Brenda Kovich tried a new way of integrating a Student Teacher into her classroom — “My favorite part of the year was hosting a student teacher. Instead of turning my classroom over to her (as was done in the past), we used a co-teaching model. Sometimes she led and I assisted, sometimes I took one group and she took another, sometimes I taught and she provided remediation. Our instructional format varied according to the content, the process, the product, and student needs. It was wonderful for my students and for me. I urge each of you to consider ‘passing it on’ to educators of the future by hosting a student teacher next year!” What a great idea. Also great, Brenda’s Jack and the Beanstalk measurement resource. She calls it a “mathematical adventure!”
Core Inspiration by Laura Santos had a fabulous year and she credits TpT. “My favorite part of this school year was feeling more creatively inspired in the classroom than ever before. I certainly have TpT to thank for this. I have always created resources and supplemental materials to enrich my students’ learning experience but now I spend much more time building higher quality resources because I know they have the potential to be used by more students than ever. My students and I had a fabulous year of learning, exploring and taking on challenges with the desire to grow.” Record some memories of your own with Laura’s School Memory Book.
Challenges are What Keep Life Interesting
Challenges Faced and Overcome This Year:
Teaching one grade has its challenges, how about two? This is what DeWitt’s Learning Lab has to say: “My greatest challenge was learning and teaching two new grade levels worth of curriculum. As much as I love all the science standards, it was challenging to plan and prepare for all of the hands-on activities. It motivated me to create some new and exciting things for my store that I hope will help others out.” For instance, her My Year of Awesomeness book.
How about co-teaching in four (yes, four!!!) classrooms? That’s what Deb Hanson did and lived to tell about it. “My biggest challenge was co-teaching in four classrooms. It was challenging to find time to meet with all four of my colleagues during the week to plan for the following week. Sometimes we simply got too bogged down with other meetings that we just had to ‘meet’ via email and discuss our plans.” Deb, you deserve one of your own End of Year Awards!
We’re very sorry for your loss Melissa Shutler. Understandably, her biggest challenge was losing someone very dear to her. “My beloved dad died on January 20. I’m still dealing with it every day. My students were there to see me go through all of it. I think they learned that we all lose someone really important to us, but we can keep going and learn to be happy again.” And she’ll continue helping them treat one another with compassion with her Classroom Awards Memory Book.
Some folks just can’t help themselves… Amy Mezni says, “I swore I would never go back to elementary school. Ten years later, I wanted to go back to elementary school. I have had to recreate all my materials and re-adjust to new methods, etc. Since I love to create my own things, I have actually been enjoying this.” She has a newly created Class Memory Book that’s worth checking out.
Be Prepared for Anything
TpT’ers Prepare for the End of the Year
That Rocks Math Science and ELA says, “I keep trying to build relationships with kids, encourage them to read, and let them know I care and believe in them. Some of my kids go home to situations that make me wonder how they survive life at all, let alone middle school. The team I am on, however, has a tradition of giving every kid a personalized award. They can be anything from the ‘Chicken Scratches Award,’ to ‘The Most Likely to Marry a One Direction Band Member Award.’ We purposely look for something unique about each kid, and we take turns telling a story about the kid as we hand out the award. It takes a long time to do, with 125 kids, but they love it. We also show a slideshow with pictures from the year. I’m in charge of that part, so I guess I am preparing for that… thanks iMovie for Dummies!”
Transitions are hard and can be harder for children with autism, Autism Educators preps for the end of the year with “social stories.” She says, “My kids love social stories to help them prepare for any upcoming event or situation. To help them prepare for summer and the significant change in routine, I have created a few activities for K and 1st graders to get them familiar with the next grade level, as well as an end of the school year social story.” Find her Social Story here.
Teacher-Author Tested Antidotes
Youth is NOT Wasted on the Young
There’s always one… See how one student in Silly Sam Productions’ room responded to reading about manatees: “One little guy in my room has become so excited about learning about nature and manatees in particular, that he decided that he wanted to do something to help save the manatees. So, he set up a stand on the end of his driveway (right across the street from the school) with a ‘Save the Manatees’ sign. He collected enough money to adopt his own manatee! His first customer was his kindergarten teacher from last year. She happily gave him $5 to get started.”
Finally, you won’t want to miss this video that Teresa Kwant helped bring to life with her colleagues, in an effort to motivate students for the end of year testing. She’s taking some time off from teaching to start her own family but wanted to go out with a bang. She says, “My moto is, ‘Go big or Go Home.'” So here’s the video for your viewing enjoyment. (Seriously, you have to see this. Truly impressive!)
Here’s something fun: This school year coincided with my first year at TpT. I started in August and I feel like the TpT conference in July will be my “Summer Break.” So, I thought you might like to know what my answers are to the questions posed to you all.
- Favorite part of the year: Getting to know so many amazing Teacher-Authors through the forum posts, blog posts, and email exchanged for milestones, fundraisers, conference planning etc.
- Most challenging part of the year: Not being able to include all of the great teacher blogs, quotes and products Teacher-Authors shared with me in the forums (seriously, y’all are not making my life easy).
- Prepping for the end of year: The TpT Conference of course. I’m bursting-at-the-seams, bouncing-off-my-seat excited to meet so many folks in person!
- Antidote: Never has a job caused me to cry so often. Oh sure, I’ve had stressful jobs before and days where I went home and shed a tear or two — but those aren’t the tears I’m talking about. TpT’ers are such a caring, supportive group and the personal stories you’ve shared, of both triumph and tragedy, have reduced me to a blubbering mess too many times to count. But… you know what’s really awesome? Unlike the school year, I don’t have to say goodbye to you all. I hope to see many of you in Las Vegas and if not there, I’ll catch ya on the flip side.