I also have reflected on the way that many of us approach the end of the school year. We have all been guilty of counting down the days to summer break as we eagerly look forward to summer vacations, warmer weather, and extra time off. My challenge to all of us this year is to remember how much we missed our kids this time last year. Let's not think of these last 44 days as some finish line or light at the end of the tunnel, but rather as 44 opportunities to love & teach our kids. Let's finish well together, and embrace whatever changes may come with optimism & hope!
That positive message reminded me of something I wrote a few years ago as a Professional Pet Peeve:
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.
- They will notice that you can't wait to get rid of them.
- They will see that you have nothing else to give them.
- They will anticipate the end, and make allowances to endure it just as much as you are.
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:
- Education is important. We're not finished. I want to teach and interact with my students right up to the very end. I shouldn't waste a moment.
- Time is valuable. I'm not just babysitting here. School is not just a place where kids come to get out of their parents' hair. I need to do more for students than just give free time and fun activities.
- I will miss my Hoggatteers. I may not see some of them again in my lifetime, so my parting message is important. I need to make my last words important ones.
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.