It is that time of year again, it has officially become spring. Our city has enjoyed its first 3 consecutive 20 degree days in almost 7 months. This is great for those of us who like to get outdoors to do walking, biking, golf, and most importantly barbequing. Yet this year, more specifically this spring, I have found almost no sense of relaxation or relief in the good weather. Alternatively, I have found this time to be the most stressful and tiring of any time all year. I can only explain this to be caused by the threat of summer.
Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about the great weather. I can’t help but feed off of the excitement of my students and colleagues alike. Perhaps, after the uncharacteristically long winter we have had, we feel that the good weather and sunny days are much more deserved. But if you’re like me, you know that May and June can be the busiest time of year.
Summer is great, I love it, but the threat of summer is realizing that before those first days of summer, there is still May and June. May and June seems to “fly” by. As a teacher, looking past these months to summer can be disastrous for your students, and yourself. Just think of all that happens in the next two months; exams, PAT’s, final assignments, track meets, field trips, and the list goes on.
We recently had a staff meeting where a calendar of events was presented for the staff (a common practice at staff meetings). But this time it was different. When looking through our calendar, I realized that there were only 3, yes 3, days in the next two months that there is not some type of activity, retreat, competition, field trip, exam, or more going on in our school.
Now as staff, we can choose to view this one of two ways. The first, is the “what are we doing?! This craziness needs to stop!” point of view, and I’m sure that a few people may subscribe to this. The second view, which I prefer to have, is the “Wow! How amazing is our school, staff, and building that we can provide so many enrichment opportunities for our students!”
Hold on! Just because this is what I think, doesn’t make the next two months any easier.
I teach math, science, and physical education. Three courses that I truly love teaching. In two of these classes, things are great and moving along as they should. However, in one of the three I am beginning to panic. We only have roughly 26 instructional days left, and I feel that I have a lot to cover. Through conversation with many of my colleagues, there seems to be a lot of people in the same situation. This has a tendency to lead to stress, and make everyone a little edgy.
Now, I know that I will get through the required curriculum before the end of the year. My worry is that the students may not be getting the “best” of me in the next two months. I enjoy leaving the learning to the students. By this I mean I prefer to guide the students through learner-directed activities, rather than teach through direct instruction. Yet over the next few crazy weeks, direct instruction it may be. In some situations, direct instruction is an effective way to present material, yet I can not help but feel a little guilty subjecting my students to this method for four more weeks.
I have spent more time in the last several days worrying about how to present material to my class than I have had in the last 3 years (only rivaled by my first year teaching!). I fear that this is beginning to show itself in my class. This morning as a group of students came into our room to visit prior to the bell going, one of them said to me “Mr. Hall, you look exhausted.” You know what, I am exhausted. I’m not tired in the sleepy sense, I am mentally drained. Part of me is battling to keep focused, while another part of me wants to say “give them what they need to know for the test and move on.” I don’t know if it’s just me, but how many of you battle with this at this time of year?
I can’t help but think about the other students in our school. I can see their excitement when I’m on supervision or in the halls. However, I can also see the same “tiredness” that was in my eyes this morning, in the eyes of their teachers. Is this effecting the quality of education that are we providing to these students in the next 4 weeks? I hope not.
At our school we practice the FISH Philosophy. For those unfamiliar with this philosophy, it is based on 4 main ideas: choose your attitude, making their day, be there, and play. I have decided that the only way to battle the threat of summer is to fully commit myself to this philosophy. I hope that in the next two months, I can choose my attitude, be there for my students, make the day of one of my colleagues, and make sure that I am not afraid to include play in my lessons in the next couple weeks. Only then will I begin to release the stresses of spring, and truly enjoy my last two months of the year.