Soon enough all of our staff will be lined up on the sidewalk of our school. It will be a steamy day in late June. We’ll be watching the buses drive off one last time. The smell of diesel will fill the air. Bus drivers will be blaring their horns. Kids will be waving from the bus windows, some with summer smiles adorning their faces, others with tears streaming down their faces. I’ll be choking back tears as memories of a school year that has, once again, disappeared all too soon flood my mind. It’s a tear-jerking, beautiful tradition that marks the end of our school year.
In the days leading up to this moment, my students won’t be signing yearbooks. In fact, it is rare for anyone in my class to purchase one. Instead, in years past, the kids would grab a piece of paper and have all of their classmates sign it. They wanted something to hold onto, some sort of physical reminder of their classmates, as they left for summer vacation. Knowing this paper would quickly become lost, I wanted to send my students home with something to treasure but I struggled to find something meaningful. Fortunately, thanks to social media, I came across an idea that my students really enjoy.
In the last few days of school, we take time to reflect on the strengths of each member of our classroom family. The students brainstorm independently and then write out their compliments. They make sure the compliments are very specific and unique to each recipient. I purchase blank hats and fabric markers. Every student gets a hat. Then, the students write one compliment for each child on his/her hat. In the end, the kids have colorful hats full of compliments from their classmates. It’s a phenomenal way for students to cap off the end of the year!
*The photo of the hats has been blurred to protect the confidentiality of students. The hats are usually much brighter.*