There is no fatigue like the teacher at the end of the school year. There are many reasons why this can be so tedious, but the most common is the behavior of end-of-year students that can sometimes seem impossible to manage. From our students’ lack of focus on ignoring rules that were easy to apply before, student behaviors emerging at this time of the school year may seem like the last day of school will never come.
But the end of the year doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel to handle these endless behaviors. Take the opportunity to help us build student-teacher relationships and student relationships as well as help students continue to practice appropriate behaviors. Let’s take a look at the most common behavioral issues that arise during the end of the school year and how we can manage behaviors to end the school year on a positive note.
1. Excessive talking
What it looks like: You are teaching a lesson and the students will not stop talking. You are trying all the tricks of your classroom-management to no avail. Even your quietest students are whispering to their friends sitting at the table.
Why this is happening: Your students are excited and know the end of the year is near. The weather is getting warmer and students are starting to get out of the academic mindset and test the mindset of summer planning. And be completely honest, so most teachers! So, why not join them?
How to respond: Let your students know how they are feeling. You see, they’re excited for the upcoming school-year-end events, and summer vacation is almost here. Remind students that they still need to work, but will have the opportunity to talk to their peers. Set a timer for three minutes (or less or more) and tell students they have three minutes to talk. When they hear the timer, it’s time to focus. If they can focus on the lesson (remember to keep your lessons short if possible), you can lengthen their “talk time”.
Books to read: My face is a volcano!
2. Incomplete work
What it looks like: As you collect and grade work, you notice that three-quarters of your class has not turned into math assignments. You can also see that Lucy and Daisy, who have returned to their assignments, have run through their work and done their best to get a completion grade.
Why this is happening: Students know that state and district collective exams are over and report cards are probably already finalized. They think that they should not start work or even finish the assignment because, to them, it is not a part of their grade.
How to respond: If students are not going to finish their work, take a look at the work you are asking them to do. Does it make sense for your students? Do you even need it for a grade? If the answer to both questions is “No”, do not assign those assignments. Instead, do the whole thing for students that will keep them employed and give them ownership. Instead of assigning students to complete a math worksheet, ask them to create a game board based on the math skills they have learned. Ask students to create their own Reader’s Theater based on a story rather than simply writing a summary on a notebook paper.
Books to read: Koala could be
What it looks like: You’re teaching a lesson and Joey is wearing his headphones and listening to music on his Chromebook. You tell her to stop it and remind her of the expectations of the class and she looks at you and says “no”. In your mind, you’re thinking a million things, and outwardly, you’re trying to keep it cool and think about how to react.
Why this is happening: While most students are excited about the school holidays, there are students who are worried about the summer holidays approaching. For some students, school is their constant and their only routine, which means summer vacations can bring extra stress and unknown worries. Students with these concerns may be hostile or may explode in class.
How to respond: QTIP! That means stop taking it personally. Student behavior is a form of communication, and a student like Joey says a clear “no” to his other way of communicating. If this happens during the lesson, do not engage the student at that moment. Let her listen to music, and talk to Joey in a safe place while your other students are working. Get to the root of the problem without controlling your anger.
Books to read: That rule does not apply to me!
What it looks like: Emma and Lola, who are usually best friends, come over from vacation and immediately come to you crying. Apparently, Emma was playing with Chloe and Lola was upset because Emma was not allowed to play with anyone but her. Emma thinks Lola is controlling too much and wants to make new friends.
Why this is happening: Sometimes classmates and friends can form sibling relationships and spending too much time together can turn into bad and blow students away from each other. Everyone needs a break.
How to respond: Listen to both students individually so you can hear both of their stories and so they can hear each one. Get the students together and tell each other what they told you. Mediate conversations and bring students to an agreement. Ask them to make a decision on how to move forward to end the year on a good note.
Books to read: Circles around us
5. There is no inspiration
What it looks like: Students have lost interest and are not motivated to try their best. They are working lazy and seem almost lazy. They seem to have forgotten all the classroom procedures and they are just wild and carefree.
Why this is happening: Students are obviously checked out. They know the school year is near and they are ready for summer. As summer approaches, they may be able to cope with unknown worries in their home life.
How to respond: Let your students know that you understand how they are feeling. Also remind them that they still have to complete tasks and learn by the last day of school. Set daily goals for your entire class and announce them early in the day.
Books to read: Lazy Ninja
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For more activities to keep your students focused on the end of the school year, check out these 35 fun end-of-the-year assignments.