Saying Farewell with a Goodbye Circle

I am fortunate to work in a school were turnover among students (and staff) is very low. We typically have entire families come through and we even have some students of former students in the building.

However, life happens, and on average, one student moves during the school year. This is usually due to parent(s) getting a job in another state, so it's a tough time for both the student moving and the friends they are leaving behind.

One of the ways that we help students get the chance to say goodbye is with a Goodbye Circle.

This is a similar structure to my Morning Meeting and Birthday Circles. All students sit in an oval on the rug and this time, the student leaving sits in the meeting leader chair.

We make a chart together earlier in the week about some of the ways we can say goodbye. This is more than just a chance to reminisce about the student, it can become a hopeful time with well wishes and good luck for their new school.

We keep this chart up so students can see it as we go around the room. I like to challenge the kids to say two things: one about the student (a fun memory, a compliment on their character, etc.) and one about their future.

I am always blown away by the kindness and sincerity of each of these comments. It takes longer than the Birthday Circle, so be sure to plan accordingly.

When everyone has had the chance to give their message, I let the departing student choose their favorite song and I will play it aloud from Spotify.

While the song plays, students are invited up to sign a goodbye poster. This is just a simple print-out on 8.5x11" paper with the message of "We'll miss you!" on the front (grab it for free HERE). I put out my favorite gel pens and, just like our Birthday Cards, kids can sign their names.
What is different about this sign is that it is much larger and students can write several sentences if they choose to. Messages can also go onto the back.

This also gives students time to give hugs and hang out together in a more relaxed atmosphere.

In the past, some students have chosen to bring in a small treat like a pencil or party favor to hand out to everyone, but this is only if they choose.

I typically like to hold our Goodbye Circle at the very end of the day or bumped up against a recess. I have found that being able to move our bodies after such a sad time is very helpful for processing their emotions.

If your schedule doesn't allow for that timing, I recommend a movement-filled Brain Break to give the kids this opportunity.

The sign goes with them at the end of the day and can hopefully be a reminder of the love and friendship they will always find at our school.

How do you say goodbye to students who move?

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