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Thoughtful ways to say goodbye to your students

Some of the best ways to close out your City Year with your students

As a City Year AmeriCorps member, you’ve spent all school year creating impactful and unique moments with your students. Now it’s time to finish strong and say goodbye. With the school year coming to an end, here are some ways to make your goodbyes a meaningful and positive experience for you and your students.

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Group of elementary students smile while wearing their AmeriCorps members' jackets

An assortment of inspirational notes for your students

One of the hardest parts about saying goodbye to your students is knowing that you won’t always be there to share an encouraging word or have an empowering conversation. But don’t worry! You should leave service knowing that your students have a community of caring adults around them. From parents and guardians to teachers and administrators, your students will not be without the support they need!

Still, leaving your students with a note that inspires, motivates and encourages them can help your students through the challenges of the next academic year. It can also remind you of the meaningful relationship you both worked to build.  These notes can be personal messages or quotes from inspirational public figures.

When creating these notes, think about your students and what inspires them. You can even create categories such as “For When You Need Encouragement,” “For When You Need a Good Laugh,” or “For When You’ve Accomplished a Goal.”  Find a creative way to display or package them, such as a mason jar or a customized notebook. Your students will appreciate having these words to take with them moving forward.

Highlight your students’ milestones and achievements

One way to ensure that saying goodbye remains a positive and uplifting experience is to reflect on all the wins and gains you experienced together. You want to make sure your students recognize their progress this year, even the small or less obvious triumphs.

Carve out some time to reflect on the goals you accomplished, such as going from a “C” to a “B-” in biology or improving punctuality and attendance in class. Recapping these milestones can be a confidence boost for your students and remind them of their ability and power to achieve great things.

Write or exchange thoughtful letters with your students

Sometimes a simple letter can convey so much. Jotting down your thoughts and feelings about ending your journey can be cathartic and give you and your students the closure you need. You can turn it into an exercise where you both write a letter to each other and then share them on the last day. In the letter, you can share your fondest memories of your time together and warm wishes for your respective futures.

If letters aren’t your forte, try a poem, song or writing style that suits your liking. Either way, if it’s meaningful, it will be worth it!

Create a playlist for or with your students

It’s not always easy to find the right words to express your feelings. Sometimes thoughts are more easily translated through music. Find a few songs that capture the sentiment you are looking for and make a playlist to share with your students. You can make a PowerPoint or document with YouTube links to all the songs or even create a Spotify playlist that you can share with your students. You can also print off lyrics and create a song book. You can even make it into a group activity where you and your students create the playlist together!

Create a visual representation of your journey together

A picture, collage or artwork can be a creative way to capture your farewell. Take a futuristic approach and make a vision board with your student that includes your hopes and dreams for the future. Plan an activity where you cut out images and symbols from magazines and newspapers reminiscent of your year and assemble them on a canvas or poster board. Create a visual timeline of your journey, starting from the first day of school to your last day of class. Put together a photo album (FERPA approved) of sentimental moments like solving a problem together or having one-on-one time during lunch.

These visuals can be sweet reminders of the amazing journey you had together. Of course, make sure that any photos you include adhere to City Year’s guidelines to ensure the students’ safety!

Goodbyes also introduce new beginnings

However you choose to say goodbye to your students, make sure they understand that goodbyes are just hellos to new and exciting chapters to follow and that the bond you have will never be forgotten.

Looking for more advice on how to close out the year with students?

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This blog was updated in May 2022.

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