How to end this school year?

I love picture books. I love reading a great picture book aloud with students to share a message beyond my words. I have been searching up and down for a read aloud to share with our Preschool through 5th grade students next week in our final gathering, but nothing seems right. Of course there isn’t a book about going away for the summer when you’ve been away from each other for months already. I haven’t even found one that metaphorically comes close.

So, I decided to try writing something myself. This is a rough, rough draft. I don’t know if I’ll actually share it, but I decided three years ago to use this platform as a way to share ideas, whether 100 people read it or zero. So, despite a bit more hesitation than usual, I am sharing this with you now. Please send me any feedback you have so I might have it ready to share with our students next week.

You can read below and write in the comment section below or go to this Google Doc to add your comments there.

Thanks, Chris


One morning, all the school children woke up, got out of their beds, ate their breakfasts and rode to school, in their cars, their buses, and some even walked.

They smiled big smiles as their teachers said hello and welcomed them to their classrooms. The children talked to each other, hung their backpacks and went to work in the rooms the way that they did every day – greeting friends, building with blocks, sharpening pencils, and reading books. 

As the clock approached three, the children packed their bags, walked out of their classroom smiling and talking and saying, “Have a great break,” or, “See you soon,” ready to enjoy the spring.

The adults had been talking for a while, in hallways and offices, on computers and phones about things in the world that were changing. The students overheard but didn’t worry too much. And then, all of a sudden, the adults decided that people needed to stay home to stay safe. We wouldn’t be going back to school.

At first, for some of us, it was fun. We slept a little later, played more board games, took more walks around our neighborhood and enjoyed more time with our families. 

For some of us it was confusing, or sad, or it made us nervous, or it made us feel all of those things at different times. Sometimes we didn’t know what to do with our feelings.

We went back to school, but it wasn’t exactly school. Things were different, and then normal, then different again. It never felt just right. We were supposed to go back to school. Parents were supposed to go back to work. School shouldn’t be on a computer. 

But we stayed home, because it was important to keep people safe. And slowly, we found ways to feel better in a tricky situation. We gardened. We played games and solved puzzles. We read books. We ate dinner together. We laughed…a lot. 

And we learned. Sometimes we learned by listening to our teachers share a book or an idea with us. Sometimes we learned from our parents or grandparents or brothers or sisters, who helped us figure out something that was really hard.

Sometimes we cried, because we were sad or we didn’t know what to do with our feelings. If we were lucky, we had people around us to cheer us up. We made phone calls to talk to our friends and family to make sure that we were okay and they were okay.

And we kept on learning, even when we didn’t know we were learning. We learned new routines, new recipes, and new ways to cheer someone up. We learned how to be bored, how to solve a problem when everyone else is busy, and that it’s okay to put something aside and come back to it later.

We learned that a smile, a hug, a handshake mean so much more than we knew. We learned that our community will work really hard to help each other. We learned that we love each other in a way that we probably didn’t realize before. 

We even learned something we already knew – to share. We learned how important it is to share our words, our time, our smiles, our worries, our ideas, our happiness. Sharing is what makes us a community. 

So when we come back together, because we will come back together, we can share all that we learned with each other. We will have a story to share with lessons we learned that will make us an even better community. 

So the next time we see each other, whether it is at the park or in our school, don’t just share, share big – smile big, talk big, love big.

5 thoughts on “How to end this school year?

  1. Hi, Chris. This is beautiful! I wondered if you might want to include anything about goodbye. They are a huge part of our international community that is so transient. We will have students and teachers who won’t get to say goodbye to their friends in person. When we come back to school, whenever we do, those people will just not be there anymore. I don’t know if you have any in that situation who are moving on to other schools, but that might be worth acknowledging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris, great idea to write your own for the last week. Our last day was Friday, and I had prepared a video of a short message from me, followed by photos of them enjoying school and making connections. I then chatted with the kids who showed up (half – this is a success!), and asked them, no matter how school starts next year, to connect with their teachers. Don’t hide behind the computer – SHARE their own stories, because we can teach better and with more relevant information if we KNOW the students like I thought I knew them. Then came the questions that made me cry while waving goodbye and hitting that “end session” button.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like it. Well done!

    From: The Lost Teacher To: Sent: 5/30/2020 7:12 AM Subject: [New post] How to end this school year?

    Chris Loeffler posted: “I love picture books. I love reading a great picture book aloud with students to share a message beyond my words. I have been searching up and down for a read aloud to share with our Preschool through 5th grade students next week in our final gathering, b”


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