One of my favorite end-of-the-year activities I’ve ever done with my students is an end-of-the-year letter to themselves. I did this one year that I had seniors. I had them write a letter to their future selves, and I told them I would mail the letters to them in one year.
Several days before we begin the assignment, I tell students that they will be writing a letter to themselves and that I’ll need for them to bring in a self-addressed, stamped envelope. I collect the self-addressed stamped envelopes for several days before the actual assignment, and I keep them organized and separated by class period and then in alphabetical order.
The main reason why I collect the self-addressed, stampede letters for several days is so that more students bring them in. I usually let them know about the assignment on a Thursday so they have the weekend to get the supplies, and then we usually don’t write until the end of the next week.
I provide envelopes and stamps for all of the students who did not bring in their own. Usually, there are not that many. Also, I suggest checking with your school because they might mail the letters for you! Also, if you are looking for more end-of-the-year activities for middle school and high school students, you might want to check out this blog post.
Since I did this activity with seniors, we first discussed the big steps they were about to take including graduating from high school, possibly going away to college, possibly starting at a community college, possibly joining the military, or possibly joining the workforce. We also talked about hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations for the year after high school. I also shared stories about my first year away at college with them as well. I shared fun experiences like moving into the dorms, challenging experiences like learning how to navigate an entirely new city all on my own, and how I managed to juggle a part-time job with school work.
Then, I asked them to think about what they hoped to accomplish in the year following high school. I asked them to think about what they wanted to learn, what they hoped to achieve, and where they wanted to be in one year from now.
For the actual assignment, they turned in their letters in sealed, self-addressed, stamped envelopes. I didn’t read the letters. They were not for me; it was an assignment for my students. It was a credit/no credit final assignment. On the day they wrote the letters in class, they were engaged. I could tell they were really thinking about what to write to their future selves. I put on some music for some ambiance, and it was a memorable moment. The air was heavy with optimism, excitement, and a bit of trepidation.
After all of my students turned in their letters, I stored them in a filing cabinet for a year. Exactly one year later, at the end of the next school year, I reminisced about my amazing senior classes from the years prior (and they truly were amazing classes. I missed those students so much the following year) as I took out the envelopes and put them in the mail.
Possible Reflection Questions
If your students need some extra guidance, here are some reflection questions you can write on the board to help your students think about what to write.
- Where do you hope to be in one year?
- What do you hope to have accomplished in one year?
- What do you want to be working towards?
- How do you think this next year will go?
- What are you most excited about for this next year?
- What are you most worried about for this next year?
- How can you help make the world a better place?
- If you aren’t where you want to be in one year, what advice can you give your future self?