I know it’s not even June yet–but all the summer-like fun I’m having this Memorial weekend has me thinking ahead to the end of the school year. Now, I can honestly say that I don’t have a countdown to the last day of school (I swear!), but the end of the school year is a weird and wonderful time that I have a love/hate relationship with. Things I love/hate about the end of the year:
1. The Schedule: Schedules help kids. We go over our schedule every morning; the routine of it helps calm anxious kids, and prepares students for transitions and expectations. Throughout the year, the schedule stays relatively constant. At the end of the year, the schedule goes BONKERS. Field trips, guest speakers, assessments, interdisciplinary projects, concerts, etc., and then the shifting of the curriculum blocks to compensate for all the “extras.” I can no longer use my snazzy teacher store schedule that hangs by the clock; I have to write a daily schedule on the board that ends up being 15 lines long because of all the changes. It’s chaos, and I think there’s a direct correlation between weird kid behavior and the crazy end-of-year schedule.
However…guest speakers are awesome. And concerts–kids have spent all year practicing their instruments, and are thrilled to perform for the school! Field trips? Duh! All of these “interruptions” to the schedule absolutely enrich our students’ experience, and will be the memories kids take with them when they leave for the summer. Talk about the J-Factor! So maybe it’s worth a little chaos to close out the year with a series of happy events.
2. The Curriculum: Units are coming to a close; the carefully planned sequence of skills have all been taught. So June becomes the month of project mania! And I do love me a good project. In our grade level, we mix up students, or we switch teachers, or both, so the students get to work on a variety of interdisciplinary projects with teachers and students from the whole grade (as opposed to just their class). Right now, fourth graders are involved in a service learning math project , using a variety of technologies to explore coding, make movies, and create math teaching tools, and producing a stage version of a favorite book. SO MUCH FUN! So much learning, too, that goes above and beyond the scope of the regular fourth grade curriculum.
However…chaos (see above. Clearly I’m a control freak). And I miss my students! They bounce around to the four winds, working with different teachers doing cool things, and I don’t get to be a part of it. Finally, projects are a challenge to manage. Working with students who aren’t used to working together means a period of time of setting norms, routines, and expectations, getting to know a new community of learning. Then, the best-laid plans go awry, the technology you are introducing won’t work, you go outside with 20 children to sort cans and bottles and the bags are missing–you have to be ready for anything. It’s exhausting and exhilarating all at once!
3. Last but not least: It’s the end of the year! The weather is getting better, outdoor recess every day, summer vacation is in sight. But I will miss my students! I know it’s a good thing they are all moving on to 5th grade; it means I’ve done my job. But I can’t help being a bit nostalgic (ok, maybe overly so) at this point in the year. I remind my students constantly that they have to still wave to me in the hallway, come back and visit once they are in middle school, and email me the minute they get accepted to college. We’ve worked so hard all year long that it’s hard to let go!
What do you love/hate about the end of the school year? Please share!