Monday, June 14, 2004

The Finish Line

"What will we be doing the last few days of school?"

"I don't know; it depends on the teacher. Learning new stuff, like always."


"What did you expect? We care about your education! You should know by now that we're not going to give up a single day when you could be learning!" I said all this in my best Indignant Voice, with a smile.

"Why? The tests are over!"

"School is about MUCH more than the tests! Those tests didn't even include any Science, did they? And anyway, next year's test is coming up quickly!"

"What?! When is it?"

"Next spring. But the end of one year is time to start getting ready for the next year!"

What I told my homeroom this morning was both true and not true. As the year winds down, we are continuing normal lessons. The math teachers have begun next year's lessons. I am continuing to teach Science. The kids continue reading and writing. Yet, no one's giving very much homework these days. The pace of work has slowed considerably. June has been filled with half days, field trips, and other events. One teacher (out of six) is out for the next two weeks serving on a grand jury. Today's attendance - for a half-day - was very low, so we combined the students' classes. The finish line is in sight, and it's easier to lean across than to put in a final sprint.

I don't really anticipate the kids finishing their video projects, since none of the groups who signed up to shoot on Thursday and Friday last week were actually ready on those days. Now I'm on the fence about whether to quietly scrap it and do regular lessons on energy for the next 9 days, or go ahead and let them finish. Groups who are not getting much done could turn into real problems over the next week or so, yet those groups who are excited about the project would be disappointed not to finish it. I'm personally more excited about energy than about the video project - the pace dragged so much that I got tired of it! I also think it's too long to spend on one concept. I have to remind myself that it won't kill them either way - they might still grow up to be well-rounded, scientifically-literate adults who know how to finish projects they start. What to do?

I could have done so many things better this year. I am sooo ready to relax and revamp my methods, and then, in September, start a new year. Things I need to change include:
  • teaching vocabulary

  • planning & pacing better

  • following up with students who are not completing assignments

  • assessments that are both rigorous and yet reasonable


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