Monday, May 5, 2008

My Secret Shame: Ending the School Year

I'll admit it right here in the beginning, I am horrible at ending school years. All year long, my students are highly engaged, happy with the learning that takes place, and comfortable in the classroom... then May comes around.

No, it's not that my kids start hating school, it's that I always seem to flare out early and just coast through the last two or three weeks, and this year, it's tree. OK, it's not totally me, my school is MAJORLY data driven, which isn't a good thing from where I sit, but I digress. Part of being data driven is this big pre/mid/post mentality (I think middle and high school teachers would better know these as "midterms" and "finals"). So, I give these finals, or post-tests, and then just kind of take them out early to recess, let them do interactive computer stuff, give them free time, watch movies, you know, stuff that we don't do a whole lot during the school year.

Now, free time is built in to my weekly routine, it's part of our classroom. We do watch movies as part of instructional units, I think they're great pedagogical practice if done correctly, and I do use computers a lot, but this is different. It's free recess because we're all ready to get some fresh air, movies for the sake of sitting there, and being on computers to play games, not educational games, games games.

My secret shame is that I still haven't figured out how to end the year in a consistent fashion. Don't get me wrong, my students love it to death. We had a fun year, I'm a pretty sarcastic and laid back teacher, so they enjoy it, but now that I'm also burned out, they REALLY enjoy it. It's something that either comes with experience, or I'll always be the "schools out by early May" teacher.