I Feel You

Dear Teacher Friends,

We hit 92 degrees today and it managed to do so just about when we had outdoor recess, of course. We had a fire drill this morning and we’ll have another on Friday (apparently we missed May’s so we had to do it today and then we’ll still have to do June’s – there’s a powerful metaphor here for education if I just had the energy to find it). We’re desperately trying to finish up DRAs, DSAs, writing samples, class placement cards, progress reports (both fourth quarter and final grades and comments), and who knows what else. IT’S A LOT. It is. No question.

So I get it. I am done too. I still have seven more days with students but I. Am. Done.

Getting up every morning is hard. Making sure I have clean clothes to wear that are comfortable and school appropriate is even harder. And not biting the heads off my third graders for acting like nine year olds is much harder than it should be.

from John Davey’s flickr

This year has been hard beyond words (although I’m trying to write about that too). Hard for us. Hard for the kids. Just hard in every way. Our regular end-of-the-year exhaustion is exponential right now. I feel it.

In spite of that I have a small old-lady-teacher lecture I have to get out of my system.

I hear us all saying (and I do mean us because I do it too), “Why are we still here? We should just be done already!” We know we’re done (see above) and we think the kids are done. So what’s the point?

The problem is, the kids are done because of us. We’ve hit a point that we just can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing so we don’t. We abandon our routines. We throw out our regular schedule. We start taking things down and packing things up.

And then we see the kids are done.

Yes. Because they see that we’re done.

We can relax things without completely giving up on what we’ve done all year. We worked so hard to establish our routines, we should use them to the end, let them work for us. Give kids more independent reading time. Find some blank comic pages for writing. Search out some fun Sudoku or similar puzzles for math. Keep kids doing some semblance of what they’ve done all year and they’ll do a better job of keeping things going as they’ve done all year.

Leave things up on your walls. Keep your classroom library and math manipulatives out. Start packing up what’s in your cabinets and drawers, things the kids can’t see. Fill out all your end of the year forms and checklists. You can do a lot towards being ready on the final day without it causing chaos in your classroom.

If we were done now, the kids would have been like this a week or two ago. They would have hit their chaos point as soon as we hit our exhaustion point. We control this. (Not all of it, I can admit that, but a lot of it.) We can get to the end without it being as painful as it might be. We have to keep doing school for as long as possible. The kids will be with us if we do. And it’ll be worth it.

Your Old-Lady-Teacher Friend


One response to “I Feel You”

  1. Michaele Sommerville Avatar

    Students began to get huggy (they’ve been friendly, enthusiastic, and affectionate for most of the year) the last two weeks of school. While I had to stop book check-outs in order to complete an inventory of the collection, I decided to offer volunteer opportunities to our last days together, keeping all of the decor (except books on display) and bulletin boards and learning center options in place. The kids told me “well at least the library is still normal!” Those who wanted or needed our regular routine remained in their groove. Those who wanted or needed to be part of the action of change were able to help identify books to repair, straighten shelves, scan barcodes, and even wipe down all of our cabinetry.

    “Behavior” kids weren’t behaviors during their time in the library, leaving their support staff available for elsewhere in the building. The culture of calm made it possible for several young students to fall asleep in the library late in the afternoons, their peers working quietly around them. There was no need for the theatricality of “rigor” or the facade of “high expectations” and nearly all students chose to remain in their learning groove. The students could breathe, express themselves, and keep to themselves if they wanted, And at the end of most classes, I was on the receiving end of spontaneous yet quiet embraces. As students proceeded down the hallway with teachers, many stiffened as the recitation of bribes, consequences and threat of consequences was shared yet once again by the person who knew them best. I felt torn, critical yet sympathetic, wanting to help further, but painfully aware of my limited role.

    It has been such a difficult year, with the horrors in the news exacerbating the strain. Hang in there.

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