Cooler autumnal air and changing colors make me think about transition and closure. Well, most peoples’ classes tend to end in December or June, but my classes have ended this month and I’ve been thinking about activities (and words) that are used on the last days of school. Of course, it depends on how “last” the day is. For example, at a language school, the last day of one level may just mean that students start the next level the following Monday. In contrast, the last day for students in high school, or a university, signifies the end of an era for them, the culmination of a formative period of their life. Likewise, the end of an intensive training course in which participants and trainers have been together for many hours in a short period (like one month), can also mark a significant period of transformation. So what is said to honor this? What activities are used to celebrate these endings and bid farewell?
On the last day of my Master’s program I remember one activity where all of our teachers stood in a circle holding hands. They were facing one another, and in a larger circle around them, we (their students) stood holding hands also facing one another. We took turns giving our appreciation and gratitude to our teachers for the things they had taught and done for us. By the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
On the last day of one of my classes this semester my students threw me a party. It was complete with cake and a piñata! (The photo proves that I was able to make solid contact, but it wasn’t the blow that unleashed the spoils).
At my high school graduation party, my aunt gave me Dr. Seuss’ book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” I still have it on my bookshelf and always remember the last bit:
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
What have you done as a teacher, or student, on the last day of class to applaud the accomplishments and say goodbye?
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