Teaching to the Last Bell

Yes, the warmer weather is upon us.  Many students are exposed to spring-time weather and begin to think of lazy summer days where they are not buried in homework and standardized testing but perhaps buried in sand! Teachers, too, begin to think of ways to end the school year.  Many of us start to make excuses about what we can realistically cover or complete before May or June arrives.

In New Jersey, we do not end the school year until mid to late June.  Maybe it is time to address #lastbell, #MayMatters, and #Jazzed4June all at the same time.  How can we steer away from, “We only have thirty days left.  I can’t possibly cover…” or “Is this year over yet?”  Remember that if we as educators are tired, so are our students.  Consider also that school may be the safest place for school children.  The summer break may not hold promise of vacations at the beach, sleepovers, camps, or other exciting, fun activities with family and friends.

As we begin the countdown, maybe we should begin to count UP.  Count UP to what we CAN do in the precious time we have left.  I am sharing some strategies that might be useful to you as you approach the end of the school year.  Here is one of my favorites.  It comes to you courtesy of Allyson Apsey, a school administrator from Michigan and fellow Compelled Tribe member.  Think of utilizing these strategies as the year winds down.  I think they are important in September, January, or June.  Try CRAFT in your classroom.  You can find more on Twitter @AllysonApsey.

  • Choice: small or big
  • Relationships: so everyone feels like they belong
  • Ask, don’t tell: they know so much more than we think they know
  • Fun: everyday! Student-prompted and teacher-prompted
  • Turn it around: when you find yourself in a power struggle, back it up

Think of how this might look in May or June.  Does it look different than in September?  You may have to dig deeper as an educator and be more patient, but allowing student choice and really listening to them matters.

Have you tried a mystery Skype?  How about a scavenger hunt using Twitter to assist students in transitioning from one grade to another?  Have you considered asking students to write a reflective writing piece regarding their expectations or apprehensions of moving up a grade or to a new school?  Perhaps writing is not the way some students express themselves and they are given choice in how to respond.  Will a song work?  What about an iMovie?  Remember that we are only limited by what we limit ourselves.

Here is a short excerpt from author, Dave Burgess.

How Will You End Your Year?

Consider his example or one you create with your grade level team, school, or district colleagues to end the year strong.

Although the examples I shared lack curricular content delivery, I am confident that every skilled educator can engage students AND address content.  Teaching to the last bell can be joyous and memorable!



Author: karenwoodedu

Karen Wood is the Superintendent of Schools in Barnegat, NJ. With twenty-three years in education, Ms. Wood's career has been spent primarily in administration. She enjoys mentoring novice administrators and being connected to inspirational educators and leaders across the country.

2 thoughts on “Teaching to the Last Bell”

  1. Kathy,

    I love the idea of counting UP rather than counting down! Great ideas from Allyson and Dave (they both are pretty awesome educators:) Thanks for setting the example for staff who will in turn set the example for the students! Keep teaching and learning until that last bell!!



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