Strategies to Celebrate Student Success
Celebrating student success is important for many reasons. It provides motivation, boosts self-confidence, and encourages more of the effort and behavior you’d like to see. Celebrating student success also improves morale and engagement, and it makes for a positive classroom culture. As the school year draws to a close, most teachers are planning end of year celebrations.
In this post, I’ll share tips for your end of year celebration, plus ideas to celebrate student success all year long.
End of Year Celebrations and 8 Other Ways to Celebrate Student Success
Celebrating student success doesn’t need to be fancy, and it doesn’t have to occur only at the end of the school year. Here are nine ways to celebrate student success year-round. I’ll close with some tips for an excellent end of year celebration!
While we should certainly celebrate achievement, it’s important to celebrate student progress too. Help students set goals for achievable growth, then celebrate each milestone. We encourage a growth mindset when we celebrate the process and not just the end result. By highlighting progress and effort, we help students make the connection between these steppingstones and eventual achievement. Progress feedback encourages students to focus on their own growth, instead of comparing themselves to other students.
In addition, we can celebrate behaviors like helpfulness, kindness, and patience. If we limit celebrations to high achievers, we leave struggling students feeling overlooked and discouraged.
Display Student Work
Displaying student work is one of the simplest and best ways to celebrate student success. Students love seeing their work hanging up, and it provides a sense of belonging in the classroom.
Consider having a bulletin board with a title like “You Did It,” “WOW Wall,” “Our Best Work,” or “Hall of Fame.” Even older students feel a sense of pride when their work is displayed in the classroom. Teachers of older students sometimes use a social media theme, like “#bestworkever.”
Your end of year celebration is a great time to return previously displayed student work. Make it special with some celebratory stickers, a ribbon, or even a short speech about how these treasured papers represent all your students’ hard work and accomplishments this school year. Another idea is to take students (and their parents, if possible) on a final tour of your student showcase.
Run Through a Celebration Tunnel
Have your students line up in two rows facing each other. Students in the two rows then lift their arms and touch hands with the person across from them. It’s a human tunnel—and a super fun way to celebrate student success!
Everyone in your class will want to run through the celebration tunnel, so this one is best used for class-wide celebrations. This can include achieving a class goal, finishing state-wide exams, or successfully completing 100 days of school. You can also make it part of your end of year celebration!
Giving awards can communicate to students that they’re a special, valued part of your classroom community. These may include end of year awards, or awards given at milestone moments like the end of a semester or the close of an important unit. Print certificates with student names, an award or superlative title, and a handwritten note describing the student’s achievement or special contribution.
Ideally, every student will receive some type of award. You can give awards for positive character traits like responsibility and perseverance, or even celebrate with growth mindset awards.
Usually, communication from school is viewed as bad news by students and parents. Celebrate student success with a positive call home, raving to family members about the student’s behavior, progress, or achievements in class.
Both the student and parent will feel wonderful, and you’ll create a more positive connection between school and home.
Give High Fives
Sometimes, celebrating student success can be as simple as giving a high five. Let the student know what you’re celebrating, then give a high five with a big grin.
You can get other students in on the action too. Announce why you’re celebrating the student, then line up and give high fives. High five lines can become a classroom ritual for celebrating each other as a group.
Keep in mind that some students may feel uncomfortable with physical contact, and celebrate them with air high fives, applause, or another method that feels right for them.
Write Notes or Cards
Writing notes or cards is another thoughtful way to celebrate your students. Notes don’t have to be elaborate or especially creative. It’s all about showing your students that you see them, and you notice their progress and their achievements.
If you see something noteworthy in the middle of class, you can even write a quick note on a Post-It and stick it on the student’s desk. These simple celebrations make a major impact when it comes to building relationships with your students.
Involve Other Students
Celebrations mean more when other students are involved. They also provide an excellent opportunity to unite your classroom in supporting one another. High five lines and celebration tunnels are one way to involve other students.
Another strategy is to use celebration envelopes. Write a student’s name on an envelope, then cut some lined paper into strips. Pass the envelope and the strips of paper around during a bell ringer or at the end of class. Ask each student to write a brief congratulatory message on a strip of paper, then place it inside the envelope. Students will love receiving kind words from their classmates! (This is also a fun practice to use when welcoming students back to class after an absence.)
End of Year Celebrations
Finally, finish the year on a high note with an end of year celebration. Most of the ideas listed above can be incorporated into your final celebration to make it extra exciting!
Your end of year celebration may also feature music, snacks, and games. Have students rotate in pairs or groups and discuss prompts like their favorite memory of the school year, something they learned, their proudest accomplishment, what they’re excited about for the following year, and so on.
Share with your students some reasons you’re proud of them. Make it clear that you enjoyed your time together and wish them all the best in the future. End of year celebrations leave students with a positive feeling about school and high hopes for the following year.
Final Thoughts: End of Year Celebrations and Other Ideas to Celebrate Success
Celebrate your students during your final days together and throughout the school year. You’ll increase their sense of connection and belonging in the classroom, boost their self-esteem, and enhance their engagement and motivation. And you’ll create fun, memorable moments for your entire class!