Tips for Celebrating Your Students Accomplishments At The End Of The School Year
As the end of the school year approaches, most teachers are planning summer fun, dreaming of relaxing at the beach, or blissfully envisioning the opportunity of sleeping past 5:00 a.m. more than twice a week. Those wonderful rewards are right around the corner, but don't forget your students have worked hard this year, too. As a music educator, you’ve probably already been planning to celebrate your students’ accomplishments in some way, but it can be hard to come up with new ideas that will motivate young musicians.
For teachers who want to recognize and applaud their students’ determination to learn, providing a celebration for them honors their struggles and victories during the past year. Plus, since research has connected rewards with achievement, students who are recognized for their accomplishments will build confidence and achieve mastery at an enhanced rate.
So, how can you do something that will show your music students how much you appreciate all of their hard work? Here's some ideas which work for all sorts of budgets, and you can use them as a starting point to get the ball rolling on your year-end celebration.
Have A Party!
A party is a great way to celebrate. Snacks and drinks are just the beginning. You can make it a theme party, play games, and set aside a few minutes to individually honor each student’s accomplishments. Ideas include:
Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe—Using spray chalk (like for glass) or line chalk you can purchase at a hardware store, outline giant tic-tac-toe boards on the ground. Purchase inexpensive Frisbees at your local dollar store so that each board has nine. Students use the Frisbees to play the game. You can also place dry erase boards nearby to record the number of games won and by who, that way students can earn small prizes at the end of the party.
Egg Races—these are always fun, regardless of age, and if you want to make sure that it doesn’t become too messy, you can use hard-boiled eggs. Students line up in two teams, and each person has a plastic spoon. In relay fashion, each student carefully races toward a marker, holding the egg in their spoon, and returns to their team without dropping the egg. If you drop it, you have to start over. The first team to get every student through wins.
Other fun games like badminton, ring toss, three-legged races, or mummy contest (played using rolls of toilet paper and teams) reward all the hard work you and your students put in this year by letting everyone blow off steam. Learning an instrument and overcoming challenges is tough. You all deserve a chance to celebrate. After the games are played and the food is eaten, present awards and prizes. You and your students will store up great memories.
You can purchase plain white tee-shirts and fabric markers and allow your students to sign everyone else’s shirt for a fun keepsake. Or, create some memory books for your students to take home. Adding personal notes about their progress or fun stories that happened during the year will become a nice keepsake, and the hand-written gift will mean a lot.
Inexpensive favors and prizes can be purchased at a number of outlets including:
Make it A Ceremony
Most likely, you’ve already arranged for a final concert or recital. And depending on how it’s scheduled (like with other groups, etc.) you can plan a ceremony either afterwards, or on the last day of class. If you want parents to be able to attend, planning the ceremony after the concert is a good idea. Essentially, you want to create a memorable experience where students can feel proud of their achievements.
Awards and trophies can be purchased from a number of suppliers including:
- Crown Awards—Get customizable trophies, medals, and plaques for affordable amounts. Trophies and medals start at around $1 each.
- Baudville—This store also provides customizable certificates of achievement, gift sets, and lapel pins. These awards are a littler pricier than most.
- Music Treasures—Offers medallions, buttons, plaques, certificates and sculptures for music students, along with jewelry and other trinkets.
If you add a little something about each students’ progress and successes when you present the award, your students (and parents) will appreciate the recognition.
Acknowledging your students hard work and accomplishments doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. The main thing to remember is to offer sincere praise for their individual achievements. If you’re able to do that either with a party, ceremony, or even a small award day, you’ll show your appreciation and help encourage continued music studies.