Let me preface by saying that this post is not intended to shame anyone into feeling like what they do is wrong. It is another look at things; a different angle so to speak. If you do not work with a population of students that may be directly or indirectly affected by a countdown, then this post may not pertain to you. If you read my blog and my about me, you will discover that my number one priority is the students. It is my endeavor to offer my students the best education they can get as well as partnering up with you, my fellow teacher, to learn from one another. So please see my heart and take it for what it is: A hard look at what a countdown can do to some students if we are not mindful. Keep in mind that I myself do a countdown, so my post is not intended to deter you from doing one but instead to analyze the form in which you do it. Why? because I had to take a hard look at myself and my students and realized that I was inadvertently hurting them and if we can’t change our practice to better ourselves and our students-how effective can we be?
Now on to the post…
a huge but), that is what your actions may be telling your students. Some students will ride the excitement wave with
you and even be more excited than you, but not all students feel this way. The constant talk of the end, and
end of year countdown can be detrimental to some kids. You may be thinking, “Don’t be such a drama
queen; it’s not that serious”, but sadly-it is.
see on a daily basis in some classrooms. Some schools may have only about 1% of the population facing poverty,
while other schools are fully composed of poverty stricken children. A teacher’s end of year countdown could mean countdown to summer while a student in that same classroom is counting down to the day when they know they will no longer get consistent meals. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? If you’ve never heard of it, the premise is pretty simple. When people’s basic needs, such as food, water, and sleep, aren’t being met, it’s increasingly hard for all other things to take flight. Think of yourself on one of those mornings when you’re exhausted and there is no coffee in sight. Yeah, that. #TheStruggleIsReal
But I know what I offer my students every day. I know the care that goes into shaping minds and souls. You see, teachers not only teach the mind; they also nurture the soul. Hugs, attention, and kind words go a long way and can have lasting effects on a child. Most adults can think back and remember at least one teacher that made them feel like they mattered. Go ahead, think about it. I bet you can name at least one teacher that had a positive effect on you. Some students go home for the summer and they no longer receive that. I’m not saying our students, your students, have bad parents. I’m saying that everyone comes from different walks of life and your reality may not be someone else’s. You make every day count with your words and your actions. Your countdown may remind students that they will no longer have your tender love and care. You do things every day that nourish their souls and sometimes don’t even realize it.
Are End of Year Countdowns Bad?
This post may make you think they are, but it is not what I’m trying to illustrate. Am I judging you if you do a countdown? No way! I’m counting down too because I am DESPERATE for Summer to get here. Countdowns are exciting and can be positive, but they need to be mindful. In fact, countdowns are probably necessary because abrupt ends are not beneficial either. So what am I suggesting? Research different ways that you can countdown with your class and depending on your students, choose the countdown that would be most effective for them. Make the end of the year a positive challenge. Focus on the things the students have learned and highlight them. Do special projects that focus on what the students have accomplished. You are guaranteed to enjoy the rest of the year a lot more if you focus on the exciting things you can do together.
You’re almost at the end. Hang in there.
Happy End of Year,
Linda Nelson @ Primary InspirationMay 6, 2016 at 3:32 pm
Good thoughts, Kendwy! I totally agree that "countdowns to freedom" can be discouraging to some of our students and detrimental to learning, too. Thematic learning (ocean, beach, camping, etc.) can keep interest high without losing the potential learning time. It helps to remember that the last 20 or so days of school are equal to 20% of the school year – and that's a lot!
primarycornerstoneMay 8, 2016 at 11:56 am
Yes, Linda! You're so right. I love the thematic focus at the end. The kiddos love that! Countdown to "freedom", that's exactly what we sometimes portray 🙁
live laugh love to learnMay 13, 2016 at 2:10 am
We countdown to make every last day count! It's more of a celebration of the time we have left – I don't want my kiddos to leave! 🙂