Have you ever driven in a freshly painted empty parking lot? There seem to be no limitations, you can go any direction at any speed you’d like. As a few more cars join you, things become more difficult – lines have to be added, maybe even stop signs or curbs in order to keep us all safe. These limitations are visible reminders to all of us about the correct way to go, as well as the ways we should not go.
As teachers, we set guardrails for our students at the beginning of the year. We explain our expectations. We practice what we need to do. Over the course of the year, as you become more comfortable with your students, and your students become more comfortable with you, then we may loosen our expectations, give more freedoms, and allow things to slide a bit.
Then comes the end of the school year. Suddenly things seem to change. We want to be able to give our students the freedom that they have been enjoying, but we begin seeing poor choices. Don’t hesitate, even in the month of May, to take time to review your expectations. Explain your expectations, practice them. In some cases you might even need to add a few new expectations. When students do well in the moment, show that you appreciate it. If they do poorly, review it again.
Just like the parking lot needs additions to keep drivers safe, you might need to add some lines, curbs, or guardrails to keep your students safe. Even late in the year, a few moments invested can be so valuable.
I’m sure that some of you have things you’ve tried at the end of the year. What are your best tips and tricks to help your students finish out the school year successfully? Share with us in the comments below.