Creativity for control freaks

24th June 2005 at 01:00
Peter Greaves shows how teachers can let go without losing it. This week: Saying goodbye

In the next few weeks, it will be time to draw the year to a close. There seem to be as many opinions about how to say goodbye to your class as there are teachers, but you can spot certain types.

There is the "Summer holidays, my right!" teacher. This type say goodbye to their class at the beginning of the final week. Pupils are given packs of worksheets to fill in and classroom assistants are given cleaning and tidying jobs by the dozen, while the teacher does everything possible to make sure they will not have to set foot in the class for more than 10 minutes before the beginning of the first in-service day. The final afternoon begins with a video and ends with a headlong rush to the door, which the pupils narrowly win.

Then there is the "Cherish the moment" teacher. These have an abundance of circle times in the final days, where pupils are invited to share their conclusion to the sentence, "My favourite lesson has been..." or "I'm proud I have learnt..." Pupils represent the year in clay and write a poem of memories. The final afternoon begins with quiet reflection and concludes with everyone holding hands, tearfully singing the class song one last time.

I guess most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Our classes are as ready for some less intense activities as we are, but we don't want the year to end with a whimper. We would like to mark it in a significant way without imposing on a class that probably just want to begin their holiday.

Two suggestions have helped me. First, treat the day before the last as your final day. This is the day to have discussions and contribute to a class memory poem. This is the day for quiet time and circle times. This is the day for looking through class photos. The last day itself is mad, too full of emotion and ruined by over-running assemblies. If you are looking for moments of meaning, look to the day before last.

Second, don't invest lots of money in chocolate, invest time in a personal card. Think of something short and personal and you will find that some children treasure it. If you want to give a gift, find something that reflects the year they've had. Very small, very bouncy balls seem to have been a hit last year. A tiny pot of play dough was just as successful.

Every once in a while, there are classes you can't wait to see the back of, but most have made an impression. You've made an impression on them as well, and they'll never forget you. You'll never forget them either - will you?

Peter Greaves teaches at Dovelands Primary School in Leicester Email: primary@tes.co.uk

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