For a teacher, every school year is full of both surprising and challenging moments. It’s par for the course: Everyone knows you have one of the toughest jobs on the planet!
But this year takes the cake, doesn’t it? You’ve had to toss your carefully written lesson plans out the window. You’ve been forced to adapt to a fully online and remote teaching style. You’re probably not hitting all the goals you hoped to hit. You miss seeing your students, and you’re grieving the fact that you unknowingly said goodbye to them back in March.
But we’re sure of one thing: If anyone has the ability to pivot when a global pandemic rocks the system, it’s teachers like you.
In fact, what’s happening in the world right now proves how important it is to master personal finance. Everywhere we turn, we’re seeing people who are scared to death because they’ve lost their job and have no emergency fund in the bank. We’re seeing how the burden of debt becomes extra heavy when the economy grinds to a halt. By teaching Foundations in Personal Finance, you’re setting your students up for life-changing success with money, no matter the ups and downs in the economy.
So stay the course. These last few weeks matter. Here are some creative ideas to wrap up your year, assess learning, and celebrate what you were able to accomplish with your students.
P.S. We’re not tying these to any specific standards or rubrics. At this point, the main goal of a year-end assignment is to have some fun and help your students grasp one or two key concepts from this course that they can carry with them.
Writing is a great way to reflect on learning and tie various concepts together. Use these prompts to help you think of an essay assignment, or you could have students journal about a few topics. And of course, you can adjust word count and content requirements depending on the grade level.
- What has the coronavirus taught you about personal finance? Talk about your own experience with money or the things you’ve gone through with your family.
- Times of economic hardship reveal how well you’ve been handling your money. Can you think of any stories or examples from this recent shutdown that have taught you a lesson of what NOT to do with money?
- America is built on a market economy, which is driven by supply and demand. How did the coronavirus pandemic change supply and demand in our economy? Which goods and services became more valuable? And which ones lost their value? #toiletpaper
- You’ve probably sensed a lot of anxiety about money during the coronavirus shutdown. Write about the connection between mental health and money. Why is money so closely tied to fear? And how does having a plan for your money bring you peace of mind?
- Many people say that student loans are “good debt” because they’re an “investment” in your future. Based on what we’ve covered in this course, what are your reactions to this argument?
Looking for something broader than a writing assignment? We’ve got you covered. Here are some project ideas you could assign to your students.
The Before and After Budget
Before the pandemic, most people were spending money differently than they are now. When crisis comes and you go into conserve mode, you have to really shift your priorities—especially for people who have lost their jobs.
Create two different budgets as if you were the head of the household.
- For the first budget, life is normal, and the economy is booming (like it was in January-February of 2020). You get to pick your salary, your mortgage or rent payments, and the other major living expenses and fun money you have.
- For the second budget, you’ve suddenly lost a job with no emergency fund in the bank. Uh-oh. Create a new budget focused on covering the Four Walls: food, utilities, shelter and transportation. Explain the difference between “wants” and “needs” and provide examples of each. Create the two budgets in a budgeting app or in an Excel spreadsheet.
The Foundations Podcast
Work on your own or with another student (remotely, of course) to record an episode of the Foundations Podcast (or come up with your own clever name!). Work together to create the format of the episode and plan the topics you want to cover. Then, one of you will host the show while the other acts a financial expert. You can choose to create an audio or video version of your show.
The Business Plan
Disruption in the economy always paves the way for innovation. In the last recession (2008–2010), some major startups were founded, including Airbnb and Warby Parker.1
Are you a teacher? Help your students win with money today!
Here’s a fun assignment for all you entrepreneurs out there: Dream about new opportunities you see emerging on the horizon for business startups. What problems exist right now that you want to fix? Create a pitch for your idea, a business plan, a budget and a profit and loss statement.
How I’ll Cash Flow College
How will you pay for college? In our Foundations course, we talked about a lot of options—scholarships, grants, part-time jobs and attending community college for the first two years.
Come up with a plan for cash flowing college. Make a detailed list of how much it’ll cost you at your school of choice, including:
- Room and board
- Living expenses
Once you’ve got your total, talk with your parents or family members about how much they’ll be able to pay. Then start researching opportunities to find scholarships and grants you can add on top of that to hit your number. You can also research part-time job opportunities to help pay for school as you go.
The Generosity Challenge
Being smart with your money sets you up to live with great purpose. When you’re debt-free and you’ve built up some wealth, you can be a beacon of hope to other people when a crisis hits. Since you’ve taken care of your own needs, you can now take care of others!
If you’re debt-free and you’ve got your own emergency fund, then it’s time to take the generosity challenge. Come up with a creative plan to be generous with your time, money, skills or a combination of all three! This can be done on your own or as a group project—you can get classmates together digitally (gotta love that social distancing!) to pool resources together to bless someone. Document your plan and journal about the process. Use video to capture the moment when people receive the thing you’ve been planning. Here are a few ideas of creative service projects to get the juices flowing:
- Send flowers and write letters to elderly people in a nursing home.
- Offer to run errands for senior citizens who can’t get out and about.
- Chip in to buy groceries or gift cards for struggling families.
- Buy gas for medical providers.
- Use your talents to host a virtual event, such as a concert.
Quick Tips to Wrap Up Your Year
Okay, teachers! Now’s the time for a rapid-fire round of tips to stay on track for the rest of your school year and finish strong.
- Overcommunicate. Communication has probably been the toughest challenge you’ve faced during this entire ordeal. Repeat yourself over and over to clearly communicate the expectations for the project. Use notifications and calendar invites to get the deadlines in front of students.
- Include the parents. We know most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, so the parents of your students may need some encouragement too. You can send them a recap email about the main concepts you taught this year or involve them in viewing their student’s year-end project. Maybe they’ll learn just as much as their kids!
- Bring it back to the basics. Chances are, you haven’t been able to check everything off the list. That’s okay. If your students have come away with the very basics, the Five Foundations that we teach, then you’ve achieved a huge victory. And we’re proud of you!
- Lean into technology. Is there a creative format you can have your students use to create a year-end project? Allow the kids to brainstorm ways to capture and present ideas. Creating something like a YouTube video has several advantages: It lives on after the semester ends, and it can be easily shared with friends and family.
- Plan to have some FUN. Let loose and celebrate. Let’s be honest, that’s the best way to wrap up any school year—and even more so during a global pandemic. Plan a virtual party for your class. If you teach seniors, set aside special time to honor them and give them a chance to share with their classmates about their future plans. Send out conversation questions or game ideas before you start the party. You can have everyone bring a snack or some candy, dress up, or even wear a party hat!
Nearing the Finish Line
Teachers, you rock. If you feel like you’re losing steam in these last few weeks, remember that you’ve got your own fan base here at Ramsey Education—well, we’re all spread out working from home right now, but you get the point. You’re running the last few miles of this crazy marathon of a school year, and we’re standing on the sidelines, cheering you on.
Stay engaged and hang in there. You’re changing lives.
Want to see firsthand how a Foundations teacher is finishing out their school year strong? Check out our teacher spotlight this month!