End of school year rituals are different in 2020.

We’ve finally made it to June! I’m sure you’re starting to feel some sense of relief, just like me, that summer is almost here. Many students only have a few weeks left of remote learning. Many seniors have already had their virtual commencements. As a former teacher, the end of the school year has always been bittersweet. It’s a time to celebrate successes with students, provide closure, and get giddy about time off. It’s also time to feel melancholy about saying goodbye. You know you’re not going to have the same students in your classroom every day. This year, however, looks and feels very different.

A Normal Year

Normally, at this point in the school year classes are wrapping up with their grade level curriculum. Teachers begin giving their students a sneak peak as to what’s to come next year. Students have taken their state standardized tests. Schools prepare to administer their own end of the year assessment. Teachers are working hard to solidify students’ grades and get report cards submitted. They’re also soliciting the help of their students to pack up the classroom. Students are choosing their best work products to put in their portfolio for their teacher next year.

The 2020 Shift

This year, none of these things are happening. Students are still behind in the curriculum and there will be no assessments given out. Teachers are packing up their classrooms alone. Students are given set times to come by to retrieve their items.

When catching up with a former colleague, she casually mentioned to me that it took her over six hours to clean out her classroom and pack her students’ belongings into paper bags for pickup. Another former coworker of mine inquired about the end of the school year asking, “So, are we just going to have our last small group online and that’s it?” Yes, that will be it. There will be no hugs goodbye, and no end of the year get togethers.

Keeping things “Normal”

Teachers of course are going to still do their best to personalize the goodbyes and make your child’s end of the year as special as it can be. Unfortunately, there will definitely still be a lack of closure this time around. Here are a few tips on how to approach the end of the school year with your child as “normal” as possible:

  • End strong with remote learning. Make sure to have your child complete any and all assignments their teacher is suggesting. It may say “optional,” but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to do it!
  • Have your child take an assessment at home to see what they truly learned this school year.
  • Ask your child’s teacher what they think the last day of online learning might look like and preview with your child.
  • When you go with your child to pick up their belongings, it’s okay to be vulnerable. Just listen and show your empathetic side.
  • Organize an online game night with friends to celebrate the end of the school year.
  • Have your child make cards for their teachers and friends so they can still say goodbye at a safe distance.

Looking Ahead

With every ending comes a new beginning. Here’s to hoping we’re saying goodbye to the lack of clarity around remote learning and we’re welcoming the new school year with a fresh, positive mindset and continuing the strong partnerships we fostered during this pandemic. Our children certainly deserve it!