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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Final Countdown

June is a peculiar month for a teacher.

Technically, most of us are still in school for a varying amount of days, but as we all know, you can physically be someplace while your mind is some place else.

This adage describes my students perfectly.

As any teacher will tell you, there is a bit of a bell curve approach to breaking down the school year. The first few months are what I like to call the "getting to know you months". In September and October you are establishing routines, procedures and expectations. Some teachers will also tell you they subscribe to the "don't smile till Christmas" ways of thinking. This is because you want the students to respect you from early on and establishing strict rules is necessary for such respect.

These months overlap with what I call the "lesson plans guided by holidays" months. October revolves around Halloween, November around Thanksgiving, December around Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Years. These months fly by because nearly everything the children do revolve around the holiday. Math Multiplication Christmas trees, Social Studies The First Thanksgiving lessons, Halloween spooky stories. You get the picture.

Then we enter phase three of the school year, "Test Prepping Till We Drop aka How Many More Days Till Spring Vacation?". These are the dry months of the year. January, February and March. The weather is cold and there are no significant breaks coming up. The only good thing about this time of year is that in the bell curve of learning I mentioned earlier, your students are usually at their academic peak. This is because the routines have been established and spring fever is too far away to set in. If you ever want to see the best your students can be, wait till a day in mid February to see for sure.

Finally, there is the last phase to the 10 month school year. Depending on where you go to school, this phase includes April, May and June. This portion of the year is the "Why Do I Bother?" months. This time of the year begins whenever your students return from spring break and the curve drops considerably. The weather gets warmer. The children get antsier. The next grade is just around the corner.

In my school, this portion of the year is currently in full effect.

I have to say that with this particular bunch of students there was never really a mid February high point. Their behavior got a little better. They tried a little harder academically, but for the most part, it was a pretty even keel, low average "eh" year.

So what happens when you take the kids who haven't been giving a lot all year into a month like June? Well things go from bad to worse. Adding insult to injury, our school ends later than most. Our last day of school is June 26th.

This is why teaching these past few weeks has no longer been teaching. Instead, it's more like crowd control at a Marilyn Manson concert.

There is literally nothing to hang over these kids heads in June. Retentions are a done deal. Suspension is a welcomed joke. When you've got under 20 days left in doing anything, anyone is bound to sing take this job and shove it. I know my students would.

The other thing that is funny is that although we are at an institution of learning, nearly everything that is going on works against this, thus the "why bother?" I mentioned earlier. Last week alone half my students were in and out of the room for practices for various assemblies going on. Then we had the 2nd grade show, a school wide talent show and a walking trip. This week we have the 1st grade show and a Flag Day assembly. Next week we have school awards and a Drama show. You try giving a test after a two hour salsa fest. It's like trying to walk against the tide in a whirlpool.

So over the next week and a half if you've got a spare moment, think of me down in the elementary school trenches, averting stage dives and dirty looks. July and August aren't the times to relax, they are the times to reboot and rejoice.



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