Handling the Final Stretch
When June arrives it is truly a bitter sweet feeling. Way back in September, the prospect of June seemed so far in the distance that it almost felt unattainable. Now that it is here, it is almost a surreal moment. Everyone eagerly awaits the time we can all say school’s out for summer. As teachers we bask in the fact that, unlike most other jobs, we enjoy a two-month paid vacation right smack in the middle of summer. But real teachers do not teach for a lifetime simply for those two months every year. Those people do not survive in education, and if they do, they become hostile and bitter towards everything. The last few days of the school year are days to savor and days to grow, reflect, and learn.
At around “t-minus two weeks,” students are itching to hit the “checked-out” button. They know it’s the end of the year and it becomes a struggle to maintain constant accord throughout the school day. Almost systematic reminders are needed in order for students to remember that, despite the fact that we are in the home stretch, it is still not the last day. In the past, I used quasi “negative consequences” (I don’t want to call them threats) to stay on top of my students. The “there will be no class party if you’re going to behave like you’re already in party mode for the last two weeks straight, anyways” usually settles them down for a while. At the end of the year, don’t be the teacher who gives out a ton of busy work when you already know that your report cards are pretty much finalized. But you also don’t want to have such a free-flowing day that subsequently encourages students to check out. Find a balance between engaging learning activities and light fun.
The last week before school’s out are indeed draining ones simply from the constant class management that is required. While they are very consuming, they are also exciting times, especially for new teachers. Counterintuitively, the two hardest months of the year are those two months that seem like they should be the easiest: the first and the last. But when you think about it further, it really does make perfect sense. September and June are the two months that require the most classroom management implementation. September is about establishing classroom routines and June is about simply holding on to those classroom routines. Thus a constant presence has to be established in this last month. And other than the tediousness of report cards, maintaining a reign on twenty plus kids that are just bursting at the seams is the most draining part of the job! Geez, if we teachers did not have to grade work, write out lesson plans, and we did not have to worry about classroom management, life would be pretty sweet wouldn’t it?
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