The end of term is almost here! As both you and your students aim for the finish line, you may be feeling a little worn out and in need of a wind-down. This is completely acceptable and well-deserved after a term of exams, parents’ evenings, Ofsted inspections and endless PPA!
However, this doesn’t mean you and your class can take your foot off the gas, and a limited structure may lead to disruption and poor behaviour. So, how can you get the balance between winding down for Christmas and exciting and engaging lessons?
There are four key elements you need to remember as a teacher towards the end of the term, which this article will go into. If you’re looking for a fun lesson that explores multiple skills including maths and literacy, sign up to My-Progression to gain access to a free origami box lesson plan.
What is a teacher’s responsibility at the end of the term?
From a teacher’s perspective, there is so much to do in preparation for the end of the term as well as looking forward and preparing for the new term. You still have your current class to teach, but also have a new class next year to prepare for. You’ll need to be keeping one eye on the class and another towards the future, as well as planning the seating, summative assessments, reviewing any EHCPs and more before the term is over. You may be wondering, when will you get all of this done? How will you do it in time?
If not well managed, the timetable you’ve put in place may collapse and feel chaotic, and tensions may rise between teachers and pupils. With no structure, you could end up in scenarios such as double booking the sports hall between people practicing for the nativity and those who want to do a rainy-day PE lesson. Cue two teachers who have their lesson plans in disarray and 30-plus confused children waiting for their lesson to begin!
The truth is you can’t do it all at once, and balancing all the end-of-term tasks into something more manageable will be a huge help to you as a teacher. It will take some time, but ensuring your current class is content and engaged in lessons will take some weight off your shoulders, leaving you the breathing room to prepare for the next term, and have more relaxed days yourself.
Our four tips to keep good engagement over those last few weeks are:
- Maintain structure.
- Ensure what you’re teaching is valuable.
- Revisit key areas of learning.
- Be creative.
Maintaining a structure
Keeping your class on a timetable (or as close to one as you can) will help keep their learning heads on and show them that it’s business is as usual in the school, just more festive in the run-up to Christmas! Plan and explore ways to teach creatively and engagingly to keep your class focused; can you include a game at the start of your existing lesson, a video or a guest speaker who can come in and give real-life examples of what you are teaching? Whatever you choose to spice up your lessons, keep the momentum going and stick to a clear structure as it will ensure you have a calm working environment and are in control of your classroom, which will make life easier for you in the long run.
Make sure what you’re teaching is valuable...
...and that the children are learning, and they are engaged. View the end of term as a time to tidy up the little bits of learning that perhaps need refining, revisiting topics or tricky exam questions for any upcoming mocks or using retrieval skills to test and reinforce learning before the holidays. Those recap lessons will make a difference and help to lessen the forgetting curve that happens after learning a topic.
Revisit key areas of learning
We’ve talked already about revisiting topics; however, skills can be revisited in an exciting way too. Your pupils have had assessments, and no doubt data will have been collected to track their progress. Use the analysis of these assessments to focus some of your teaching, revisit areas where skills can be improved and set your class up to succeed, so they can move on to the next term confident and happy about their skills.
Last but by no means least, have some fun with creative lessons! Why not plan a creative curriculum day or week which encompasses a range of learning skills or some self-directed learning? For example, you can set a project asking for research, ideas, and a presentation at the end. The class will be using so many skills that they may not even be aware they are learning, whilst having fun! Many schools do use a skills-based curriculum in the primary sector but if you haven’t taught this way, take a look online for some examples.
What will the outcome be in your end-of-term lessons?
By ensuring you include these four key elements in your end-of-term lessons, you will soon begin to see how busy your classroom can be: productive, motivational and have a purpose, all whilst learning.
You do still need to be on hand to support, answer questions and monitor behaviour, but by having a creative, skill-based and self-guided lesson, you free up some time for yourself to look over EHCPs or plan next year’s lessons. And best of all? No marking!
In these lessons, you will see different skill sets and talents that children have that you may not have recognised before. You didn’t know that Jessica had a love of origami and was a brilliant teacher to her group for your origami box task. Let the children take ownership and sometimes lead the learning, take on board their ideas and you will be surprised at what they come up with!
Your school may have its own ideas and well-planned end-of-term activities so check with your line manager about how to handle the end of term in your setting.
There are so many benefits of this more informal approach at the end of the school year as well as the end of any term. You will see your pupils in a different light and get to know the children, along with their skills, in a more relaxed environment. They will remember this time positively too and will leave the term or year feeling confident and content with their learning experience.
While the end of term can be a challenge try to make your teaching day as easy for yourself as possible, but take the opportunity to teach, motivate and engage, and have some fun too with the pupils. Be confident that you are moving the students on to their next year group having done your best for each child, whilst having one eye on getting that case packed for that much-needed holiday.
Want some more lesson planning tips and classroom advice? Head to our CPD channel on YouTube called My-Progression.