Teaching seniors can be so rewarding!
However, senior students present many challenges…
On any given day of the school year, seniors may be:
excited to be the upperclassmen
invincible in their final endeavors
anxious to graduate (aka senioritis)
sad to leave the security of a school
concerned about becoming adults
frustrated by being confined to rules
nervous about the future
unsure of what comes next
But senior year is so many things for so many different students…
- It can be the last chance to bump up that GPA for college.
- It can be the last sentimental year for activities.
- It can be the last chance to make up credits needed for graduation.
- It can be the last opportunity to build those lasting connections with classmates.
- It can be the longest-shortest 10 months of their life.
In supporting them through this roller coaster of feelings, teachers have the opportunity to be part of the final influence and push into adult life. We get to challenge them in coursework, discuss future plans, help them with college and job applications, give them a preview of what college and adulthood will look like, and help them to reflect on the years they have spent in school.
Getting to be a part of this monumental year helps me to remember the true rewards of teaching and value being a part of my amazing students’ lives.
My favorite lessons with seniors:
We live in a very digital world and as an audience for this world, we really have short attention spans. Infographic use is becoming more and more popular as a way to communicate information.
In this activity, students create an infographic on a real world process of something they will need to know how to do in their future… perhaps something they have not yet learned about.
In this activity, students work cooperatively to research a country’s history, culture, and tourism; then they plan a vacation to visit. They need to use internet research skills, organizational skills, and budgeting skills.
Students were engaged in learning about the history and culture of other places and had some quality discussion on how they should budget their money and what they should do on the vacation. Finally, students presented their vacation to classmates in an effort to persuade them to participate in the vacation.
3. Student-Choice Research Paper
While the “senior paper” has in the past been dreaded and overwhelming for students, I’ve found that really preparing students with the essential research and writing skills, in small doses prior to assigning it, helps the paper run more smoothly for students. But the most important concept that helps students to engage is by allowing them some choice in the subject of the writing and research. Allowing this choice also makes it more authentic and relevant for students. Read more about student choice…
My favorite part of teaching seniors is giving them the opportunity to reflect on their past, present, and future. While they do not yet fully realize it, they are about to enter the next part of their lives and it will be VERY different from their life so far. As a final project, students create a timeline of their lives. This is often a project that brings students and parents together to remember the years that have passed and to discuss the years that are to come. It is amazing to hear some of the reflection that occurs on the last day of class, as students walk around and remember times they’ve had with family and classmates and reflect on their life experiences thus far. (I tend to play really cheesy reflection music to enhance the mood.)
And finally…. when senior year comes to an end… there I am in the audience at graduation with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. The roller-coaster of senior year has ended and it is time to get off and head to the next ride. All I can hope is that they are ready for it!
Read more about teaching seniors:
- Adventures in Teaching High School Seniors (Center for Quality Teaching)
- The Joys -and Pains -of Teaching Seniors
- Creating A Lasting Impression (#myseniorfootprint)
Keep the conversation going…
- How do you engage seniors in your classroom?
- What do you do to help prepare seniors for college or adult life?
- What challenges do you find in engaging seniors in the classroom?
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below or sharing it on Facebook or Twitter!