As the end of the year hurtles towards me, I try to remain focused. There are many lessons yet to impart to my 7th graders before that final bell rings.
Some are obvious, math concepts we’ve not yet covered, simply assignments left to be completed.
Others are more important in the scheme of life.
I want them to see me working until that last bells rings, not giving up because there are only a few days left, or because I am too tired to think, or because what’s done at the end of school doesn’t matter anyway because their brains are fried.
There seems to be a pervading mentality in some classrooms that at a certain point, school is done, despite what the calendar says. Textbooks are collected early. Vaguely connected videos are popped in. Game days and free time are rampant.
While I may be a little more lax the last week or so, learning still echoes within my classroom walls. I remind myself as I am planning of all the things we need to review one more time, or little topics we barely brushed on, or things we simply never got to in the grand plan. I try to make these lessons as relevant and hands on as possible, trying to keep them engaged and interested, until the last bell rings, the last locker is emptied, and the bus pulls out of the lot.
I think students need us, almost want us, to keep them focused. They are experiencing a breaking away phenomenon, knowing they are headed onto the next grade. For some students, this is a scary transition, with new teacher, new expectations, and a curriculum they feel unprepared to tackle. For others, their this-year’s teachers have become a safe haven, someone they trust, someone they can turn to, and they are reluctant to let go of that relationship. They need and crave the established routine to keep them from focusing on the inevitable ending of this time.
I also think we need to be role models, showing that we are indeed still in school, still expected to complete certain tasks each day. It is easy as adults to become lackadaisical about our responsibilities, but by doing just that, we set a poor example for our students, telling them slacking off at the end of the race is acceptable. We need to help them be in the here, in the now, 100%.
All this is easier written than done for certain. I long to drift aimlessly these last few days, telling tales of days gone by, filling the hours with meaningless drivel.
I refuse to succumb completely, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sing a little song, serve a little ice cream, and make those last days leave a bit of nostalgia on their minds as they depart.