Are we doing anything important?
Do you hear what I hear….? Do you see what I see….? The chorus, the song, the dance before the break. The light…it’s glistening, just a small sliver but it’s there…winter break…so. close.
On this last, slow march toward the break, the question “Are we doing anything important today?” gets uttered more often, by more students, throughout the week. My answer: “Of course.” This response is always met with a groan of disgust and an eye roll, perhaps a small whimper. My question back: “Why wouldn’t we?” Of course I know the answer, “It’s the week before break Mrs. Wojciechowicz..come on. Can’t we just watch a movie? Do something fun?”
Alas, the meanest woman alive refuses to budge and we keep calm in order to teach (and learn) on…
For many of my struggling students, this time is critical to whether or not they might be able to master what they need to really have a grasp on before break so that when we come back and have only 4 short weeks until the end of the semester, we aren’t starting over from a hole much deeper than it needs to be. This is the week that could really make or break them. This is IT, and that is how I sell it. Here’s the payoff: you’re one step closer to being done. Here’s the price: gotta do it now!
So how do we do it? How do we possibly KEEP CALM!?!?
- Have a plan.
I know that seems really self-explanatory but it is so easy to get to this point in the year and be either just enough ahead or just enough behind to negatively impact where your students are going to be breaking in their learning when winter break rolls around. I always lay out my tentative schedule in September. Revisit in mid-October and then really get serious about the second week of November to make sure it’s all going to cruise smoothly to the semester’s end. You have to plan for the breaks, and the inevitable regrouping needed before and after any time off. When you break in a weird spot, it’s so much more of a struggle for them and you when school picks back up in January. SO:
- What CCSS are you in the middle of/could you tie up or easily pick up with after break?
- Where are you in gathering your TPEP data for your student growth goal? Do you need a checkpoint before break?
- If your plan doesn’t play out the way you thought: fake it ‘til you make it!
“The best laid plans o’ mice and men…” Even with the most conscientious intentions, life still happens. Happened to me this year. I lost an entire week of instruction after I became so ill that I had to take time off. The week I lost was the week before Thanksgiving, ooof! Not what I had intended and now my poor first period English 10 kiddos are not going to have the ideal break in instruction that I had anticipated. Did I tell them that? No way! Am I smiling and constantly thinking while I push here, pull back there, and all around make a breaking spot that will work for the vast majority of my kiddos? You bet! You have the knowledge and ability to adapt at a moment’s notice. Ask yourself: What standards can you effectively meet and assess in the time you have? What do they need more practice with? Remember, you’ve got this!
- Whatever you do, don’t give in.
The question is a killer. You know the one: “WHY?” “Why are you the ONLY teacher who is making us do stuff and learn this week?” First off, you know it’s not true. But the hard part is, secretly, a part of you would like to just phone it in, push play, and sit down for a solid 5 minutes. You know someone, somewhere s doing showing a movie and getting away with it. But, you can see and hear what is happening around you and you know you’re not the meanest person alive. You are not the Grinch. You have not stolen the joy from their lives. Do not give in! Other people are also teaching. Other students are also learning. The vast majority of the school is doing. Despite what those persuasive little voices say, every other teacher in the building is not showing A Charlie Brown Christmas while you require a close reading of an excerpt from Hamlet or 1984. I promise.
Keep calm my friends, and TEACH ON!