The end is near. Near, but yet it feels SO FAR away…. Of course, I mean the end of the school year. That glorious time of Science/STEM/STEAM fairs, state assessments, Book Fairs, district benchmark testing, finals, planning for promotion ceremonies and graduation ceremonies, end of year field trips, incentive ceremonies, spring pictures, spring flings, spring dances, proms, and more. All of those activities and my students are still asking for extra recess time. “Just 15 minutes, Miss!? Ok, how about 10? We’ll take FIVE minutes if we can just go play basketball!” My classroom never gets as clean as it does when I announce on a Friday afternoon that they can go outside WHEN my room gets cleaned up, chairs stacked, trash picked up, etc. I think they could sanitize a medical unit quickly if they got to go outside for extra recess!
The hardest part about teaching this time of year is trying to keep academics a priority around all of the other activities. The kids see the end of the calendar. They know it’s near. The teachers and staff all resemble the walking dead and are living off caffeine and protein bars. Meanwhile the students are bouncing off the walls, sometimes literally as they jump up to hit the top of the door frame and miss and fall into the wall (WHY is that a thing???). Sometimes I am convinced my students really try to test the theory when I say they are going to give me a stroke! I am burned out. They are burned out. I am tired and just want to sit outside in the sunshine. They are tired and just want to play basketball (when did basketball get to be so necessary on the playground??). We still have to TEACH?? They still have to LEARN?? The other day one of my students made a comment about Oklahoma and Maine being neighbors. Don’t ask, because I don’t know where that concept came from! Needless to say, I have added a geography unit into our Social Studies class. Apparently, however, asking them to memorize a region of states is torturous! Or so they tell me. “But, Miss!! It’s April!!” Somehow the calendar month has something to do with geography. I’m still trying to figure it out; when I do, I will let you know. Until then, we are going to continue building on our geography skills!
One of the state-mandated rules of state assessments is that our walls cannot contain any academic materials. Ok, I get that, makes sense. However, taking everything down makes the room seem so empty and lifeless and the kids think academics is over. So we cover it all up with large sheets of paper or bulletin board butcher paper. It works, I suppose. I am currently teaching about the superstorm of 1993 in my science classes, and I had pictures of the actual snow from my hometown during that storm. Yes, I am that old! I had to cover it up as it is directly related to academics. The students thought that was pretty dumb and it sparked a whole debate which then turned into them creating a whole game out of finding academic vs non-academic items in the classroom that might encourage an answer on a test. It was hilarious!! They decided that the class schedule should have been covered because it could have helped them with questions about time, but that the poster of the classroom expectations was too necessary to cover up. They don’t follow the expectations on that poster, mind you! I told them to stop identifying objects before the state added to the rules of testing! The poor kids hate that our walls have to get covered up. They might be so used to the things on the walls that they hardly pay attention to them, but if you cover them all up it suddenly is too much for their little brains to handle!! I think I would rather put each student in an individual cubical for testing than to have to cover up the posters and anchor charts.
In addition to students not wanting to work anymore, I think the hardest part about this time of year is that many of them secretly crave being in school. The last quarter signifies the long, lonely summer many have without friends, without caring adults, and without routine. For as much as they complain about being in school or actually completing their assignments, they also don’t want it all to be over. Honestly, I kind of feel the same. Don’t get me wrong…I desperately need my summer time to rest and recharge! But I do miss these little humans after school is out….for a few days anyway. Hang in there!! We are so close to the end!