“I’m so tired”. It seems to be a common theme amongst my friends and colleagues. We’re nearing the end of another school year and our calendars are exploding with ‘to do’s’.
Report Cards, Appreciation Teas, Sports Day, Track & Field, Grad, Retirements, Year End Meetings, Budget, Field Trips, Year End Celebrations, Talent Shows…
Every single year we get here and wonder why we are still trying to do so many things in May and June. Staff is reaching work-load capacity, students are struggling to keep up. Anxiety is on high alert taking its toll on everyone in the building.
For the past two years our school has embraced self-regulation, not as a goal, but as an embedded part of our school culture. To learn, we must first be calm. This time of year puts what we’ve taught to the test. For everyone. At the most basic level we remind each other to breathe.
“Smell the flowers; blow out the candles.” Perhaps that would serve well as our school motto.
As I sit outside on a sunny Sunday Okanagan morning, I’m struck with the dichotomy of healthy pacing and the May/June schedule. Would it jeopardize the life-long learning of our students if we stopped doing so much? My Carol L Perry School Movement will be called Slow-Schooling, and I’ll start with me.
When I approach overload, my long-suffering spouse reminds me to go back to the basics; rehearse the for sures.
- we can only do what we can do
- we can’t cram all the things we want to do into one month
- we don’t have to feed anxiety
- less doing; more being
- joy is good
- finish well
What do I want our students and staff to remember about the 2014-15 school year? We can testify to huge gains from many of our students. We’ve witnessed increased engagement, more kindness, camaraderie and laughter among staff, tenacity to work through difficult situations. We’ve successfully experienced math learning to the extent that most of our students find math fun; “no fear in numbers!” Collectively we’ve done well.
Some ideas for June 2015:
- Keep the structure intact.
- Schedule classroom breaks frequently throughout the day. In Finland they have a 15 minute break after every 45 minutes of teaching. Brain breaks, running breaks, Go Noodle, drawing, creating…there are many options. Prep the class that the break is over in 15 and then it’s back to work.
- Keep work meaningful. School goes to the end of June. We can teach/learn until then.
- Don’t stop having class meetings yet. This is the time to press into those. Use them to discuss finishing well. What does that look like? Feel like?
- Pace yourself. There’s a lot to do, and like our students, we need to be calm to be effective.
- This is the time of year that we cash in on our proactive planning. Stay the course!
- If you find yourself reacting, escalating, getting grumpy, etc. take a deep breath, press the pause button…talk to a friend.
- Remind your students of all they’ve accomplished over the year. Authentic praise will last much longer than stickers, stars, and a piece of pizza.