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Thoughtful ways to say goodbye to your students

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

Ending your City Year

You 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.

An Assortment of Inspirational Notes

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. Your students are used to having you in their corner as their biggest cheerleader and source of inspiration. One way to ensure that they have the pick-me-up they need during those tough times is to leave them with an assortment of notes that inspire, motivate and encourage them to keep going. 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 Feel Like Giving Up” or “To Remind You of Your Worth.” 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.

Highlights of Special Milestones and Achievements

Saying goodbye can turn into a sad or negative situation when you focus too much on  parting ways. One way to ensure that it 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 realize the progress they made 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.

Thoughtful Letter to Each Other

Sometimes a simple letter can convey so much. Jotting down your thoughts and feelings of 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, then try a poem, song, rap or any writing style that suits your liking. Just make it meaningful!

Playlist of Songs that Sums up your Parting Thoughts

It’s not always easy to find the right words to express how you feel. 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 YouTube playlist that you can share with your students. You can also print off lyrics and create a song book. Songs like “I Hope You Dance” and “Titanium” are great ones to jumpstart your list!

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 that are 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!

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

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