Monday, June 11, 2018

Not the End, But Only a Transition

Man, the end of the school year is hard.

First, it's utterly exhausting. Nothing is small at the end of the year. Everything is heightened. The kids are so high they're practically bouncing off the ceiling. They're louder and have a harder time making strong choices than they've had all year. Dancing happens at random times. RIP The Floss (2017-2018). There's a million things to do, checklists that are updated daily, but added to instead of checked off. Report cards to write. Inventory to take where the hell is that book did I ever even have that book I don't think they gave me that book in September I'll just check the box that says I have it it's fine. Depending on how your school's summer cleaning goes, there's boxes to pack. They're re-doing the floors in my school over the summer so literally everything that touches the floor needs to be labeled, packed, and put up. There's dear future 4th grader letters to write, dear future me letters to read, field day to finish planning and to do and, for my 5th graders, an end of the year field trip to SkateWorld, and skits and and and all the other things my team and I have come up with that are both educational while also being oh sweet David Tenant just stay busy and not too mad for a few more days.

I'm exhausted just thinking about that paragraph.

And none of that is the real hard part of the end of the year.

The real hard part is that there is no way I'm ready to be done with 5th grade with these kids. They're going to middle school. Middle school! It's a whole new world! Do you remember middle school? And I had to prepare them for that? It's not that they aren't ready, but I'm not ready for them to be ready. I didn't finish teaching them yet. There's so much we didn't get to. So much I didn't hit as hard as I needed to.

Some of them still aren't editing their writing well enough. I can help fix that. Why didn't I help better during the year? I had them all year, why are some of them still not sure where the comma goes and which word that should be, and why are some still turning in first drafts? Didn't I teach that better?

Some still can't multiply decimals. Not as well as they should. I didn't teach that right. Maybe I should have given homework. Maybe we spent too much time building stuff with cardboard. I am right, those skills translate into other, more basic educational skills. I think.

I know my kids enjoyed the year. I kept a class of 5th graders mostly engaged, mostly smiling and laughing, mostly on task, mostly creating and learning, for an entire school year. Were they wholly any of those things? For pieces of time. Most of the time. Some more than others. I did my best.

We laughed a lot. My class was hilarious this year. So creative. I got to be surprised so many times in different ways. So many came out of their shells, became more who they will be going forward. That's one of the things I love about teaching the bigger kids- personalities blossom as maturity grows. Those who matured. *significant look to camera*

Was I more creative? Was I better with data? I wanted to be. Those were my goals to start the year. Their data didn't all shake out like I wanted it to. Like I needed it to, because even though I don't care about data and I know that it doesn't represent the learning of a whole child, I care about data because it's a snapshot of things that matter. Matter to me? Yeah. I want my kids to be able to read fluently. Matter to me as much as the data matters to others? Let's put it this way- my job, my passion, is that the 30-some odd kids in my classroom learn as much as they can in the time they're with me.

Did they learn as much as they could? Because of me or in spite of me?

We had a good year. They're ready for the next step. I'm ready to send them on their way.

Next year I'll be better.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.


  1. I can relate so much to this. I have said before to you, I believe, that just as you worry about whether or not you've done enough sending them off to middle school, I worry whether or not I have done enough to prepare mine as they head on to high school. This year, I got my first taste of reassurance. One of my former eighth graders went on to be valedictorian of his high school. So, it gives me hope that I am doing something right. And, also just like you, next year I will be better. Peace and love to you, my edu-friend.

  2. I can relate. I ended my first year as a building principal. Did I give teachers enough support? Did I say "good morning" to enough children everyday? Was I supportive of parent concerns?

    I tried to be the principal that I would want to work for. Obviously I have much room for improvement, but that will come with time and reflection.