Transitions: Celebrating the End of the School Year and New Beginnings for Students

The past few days have marked the end of the school year for a number of programs I work with here in New England. Over the last week I have worked with 5th graders “stepping up” to 6th grade, 8th graders “moving up” to high school, graduating seniors on their way to adulthood and teachers moving into retirement. It is an exciting time worth celebrating, and a great opportunity for making the most of these transitions and creating connections to enhance future learning by reflecting on lessons learned, accomplishments and goals for the future.

In the next few posts I will share some of my favorite reflective activities used for this transition. These activities help learners celebrate their accomplishments, clarify their goals and move learning forward.

Commitment for the Future:

Last week Amanda Dixon, an 8th grade Language Arts teacher and I were brainstorming an activity to “tie it all together” during my last visit to her classroom. We decided to have students send a postcard to their future selves.

At the beginning of the year we used my postcard collection to have students identify a personal strength and write about that strength using figurative language. They then shared their postcard and some of their writing to the class.

During my last day in her classroom we decided to pull the cards out again and invite students to each pick that card that represented their personal strengths. We asked them to think about a lesson they learned during this past school year that will be important to remind themselves of in September when they reach high school. We asked students to write a note addressed to themself that included this lesson and a commitment for the future on their card.  We met with students individually to talk about their lessons learned and personal commitment as a sort of exit interview for the year. We promised to send the cards in early September as they start their 9th grade year.

Topics ranged from handing work in on time, learning to control anger, not waiting to the last minute, asking for help when needed, to not rush through work, to trust their instincts, and to be more understanding of differences in their peers.


“This year I have learned not to take in everything at once. I should take things one step at a time”.

“My commitment to myself is to be myself and not change for others”.

“The commitment I have made is to work harder towards school because I don’t really work hard for school right now. In high school it is going to be even more important to try.”


“My commitment is to be a better listener. This is important because when I get overwhelmed I start talking more than listening which can annoy others- it makes for a stressful day.”

“This year I’ve learned that being popular, and just being yourself are two different things. My hope for next year is to try my hardest and to just be friendly”.


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