After the last day of school - and before Summer School begins - a classroom must be packed up and the carpets have to be cleared. Sometime after Summer School, the custodial staff will clean those carpets, and the room can be unpacked once again in time for school to begin in August.
I'm not sorry that my students left the classroom in tears yesterday. The day ended beautifully.
I do not take pictures of our last farewells. I choose to be in the moment with my children. I want to listen to what they have to say. No one else sees it - no parents, no administrators, no other teachers or students. Just our little classroom family.
People would be surprised to see who the first kid to speak is; they may be shocked to see tears before he ever opens his mouth to speak. They would be impressed to hear how eloquent his words are.
A visitor would wonder at the words. Things like:
This was the first class where I felt like I was free to be who I am. I'm scared about next year: I may have to go back into that shell.
I can't do it justice with a few little blurbs written from memory hours after the event. The moment is always so memorable and meaningful. Other classes can be heard cheering through the walls and in the halls, but we share such an emotional moment. All I say at the end is "Circle up," and "Bring it in," and the class proves that everything we just heard is true.
Students had a final bit of play time during our time at the nearby parks. Some of them got a game of basketball going with our assistant principal, Mr. Garrett.
Some were definitely tired and sore by the time we headed back to the school in time to catch buses and rides - or do more walking - to get home.
Today is Fly Up day at Cecil Floyd, in which I will get to spend some time with my incoming fourth graders. On this occasion, I will introduce myself and get a feel for the new class. I will set the mood for the next year. I will get them excited for their fourth grade year.
To us, Mercy Park, across the street from Cunningham Park, is curious place. While Cunningham displays the story of the 2011 Joplin tornado, Mercy appears to celebrate life. The Rotary sculpture park boasts a collection of novel art pieces. Students took a walk around the park, wondering why a naked kid was riding a giant snail, why a pair of giraffes was running wild in our fair city, and why more than one girl seems to be lifting off into the air.
Originally Posted in 2017
Teacher friends, the sooner you start counting down to the end of the school year, the longer it will seem to take.
Sometimes we make things harder for ourselves, resulting in our own frustration, than we should. And it's really not that hard to figure things out.
We find ourselves in the lame-duck days of our year - those last weeks when mandating tests are complete and the last day of school is still ahead of us. Now is the time to experiment with your dream lessons and test new methods. Now is the time to step out of the comfort zone a bit more than usual. But it is not the time to relax your expectations and stop teaching.
As much as you anticipate the end of another year, please don't make it public. Not only will you make this period seem longer for yourself, but you will send the wrong message to your students. It may be a perceived message, but it is a message, nevertheless.
I have a dream that one day I will come to class and people will surprise me with the news that it is the last day of school. I don't want to see it coming.
I would rather my students leave me with a different message:
When we analyze even the most innocent of our actions and habits, we may find that we do more harm than good. That's why we need to analyze what we do. That's how we develop more sophisticated philosophies, and it's how we can answer more fully when challenged. It is important that we consider adult behaviors in our school, and not only student behaviors.
Leave the countdowns for the Christmas calendar - not the end of the school year. Even then, don't start more than 10 days ahead of the event. If you start too early, you're just fertilizing anxiety and distracting your students.
Friday's visit to Cunningham Park took a more serious turn when we respectfully entered the back corner of the park to see the memorial items relating to the tornado that devastated Joplin ten years ago. Students read historical markers, contemplated monuments, and appreciated the flora of the area for a few minutes.
One area of Cunningham Park is the Boomtown area, built by the Extreme Makeover crew in response to the 2011 Joplin tornado. This wooden structure is themed to Joplin's mining days. Students spent much of the first hour or so exploring the structure, climbing, hanging, and sliding. I love how such a diverse group of personalities can occupy the same space and be so crazy together.
The fourth grade walked to Cunningham and Mercy Parks, last Friday. Our thanks to our school resource officer Gooch for providing a safe escort. We planned the event on a day with excellent weather. As soon as we arrived, we broke out our sack lunches and spread out to enjoy the setting. Our day was quite pleasant and filled with special moments.
Thursday was a great day for a field trip. It's too bad we couldn't take one.
One current and one former Hoggatteer, however, made their way to Oklahoma City along with their family. While there, they visited the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum.
I hope the visit was made all the richer because of the time we spent in class covering this important event in history.
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