Q & A: A Focused Finish

Original Article:

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.01.36 AM
What’s the most important thing to focus on during the last weeks of school?

A: Showcasing students’ learning and celebrating the community you’ve built together should be the focus at the end of the year.  It’s a prime time for doing deeply engaging work, such as a culminating project, that pulls together lots of skills and allows students to demonstrate their competence. This type of finale allows children to end the year feeling proud of all they’ve accomplished and well-prepared for challenges to come.

However, it’s more typical to end the year rushing at a frenetic pace, cramming to get everything in. This sends a much different set of messages to students: “We’re behind. We didn’t do enough. You’re not ready to move on.” Ending the year on that note raises students’ anxiety and undermines their confidence.

We all know that end-of-the-year cramming isn’t an effective way to help children learn. We do it because we’re pressured—to get to a certain chapter, to be able to say we’ve covered all the required topics. I urge you to acknowledge (even just to yourself) that you won’t get to everything. Give yourself permission to slow down and spend your last weeks together as a class doing work that’s really meaningful for students. ~ Mike Anderson

  • Mike Anderson
    Mike Anderson is an education consultant, award-winning teacher, and author of many books including What We Say and How We Say It MatterThe Well-Balanced Teacher, The First Six Weeks of School, The Research-Ready Classroom, and Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn. Learn more about Mike and his work or invite him to work with your school or district through his website: Connect with Mike on Twitter: @balancedteacher.

  • Latest Blog Posts


    Mike Anderson
    Leading Great Learning
    Durham, NH
    Phone: +1 413.658.7907

    Leading Great Learning

    Mike Anderson is an energetic, experienced, and highly sought-after educational consultant who helps facilitate great learning in schools all over the United States and beyond. He has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, consultant, presenter, and developer and has authored many books and articles about great teaching and learning.