The end of another school year is ticking away. The tendency is to hurry up and get it done, but as Christians, we need to be different. The last week of school is difficult, to say the least, but adding special touches to each day can bring peace and grace to our classrooms. The purpose of the 16-9 Movement is to encourage ways we can be Christ-like in our schools. What more profound way to shine our lights than to be peaceful in an otherwise high pressure time period.
One of the tricks I used to use with my 8th graders was to put a subliminal message on my interactive whiteboard that popped up the message, “Finish Strong,” every single day from the beginning of the year. Being purposeful about finishing strong gave my students a sense of energy and purpose to the very last day. I realize that it’s not fashionable to work to the very end, but it’s wisdom. Idle students are a problem to themselves and others. To avoid some of the common issues with the last week of school, it is wisdom to be honest with your students and raise the bar of expectations that they are in your classroom to work and that their vacation will begin after the last day of school. Is there a place for end-of-the year events? Of course, but mix them in small doses and make your primary focus work until the end.
Being peaceful in the last week of school can also mean giving the students time to do reflective essays about the year. Many teachers have the students write themselves letters about their future goals in high school when they are in middle and for the younger students dreams about what they will be when they grow up. These letters are then sealed and addressed to them and mailed by the teacher years later. Why not consider creating audio messages by the students to you? They can script what they have to say as a parting message and then record their message using Audacity or other software program. Ask the students to plan their summer vacation. Give them a pretend budget and help them to spend it wisely. The idea is to create an environment of purposeful and engaging work that will have value to you and the students while trying to capture the year.
In 1st Cor. 14:33, we read, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…” For us as teachers, it’s crazy busy and too often we find ourselves with too much to do and too little day left. Give yourself the gift of the Word each morning before you enter the hustle bustle of the last days of school. That peace that surpasses all understanding will be with you as you call upon God and cast your cares on Him. Finally, plan your summer and refresh yourself with a commitment to your high calling. Make time to pray for your former and new students and make connections with other Christians in the public schools. You are not alone. We love you.
Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.