Original Article: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/focused-finish

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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