Friday, May 29, 2015

Year 5: Week 36 - Reactions To The Coming End

There’s this point in the year when you start your lesson planning from the last day of the year backwards. There is a mixture of feelings that come when you are leading up to that last class. There’s excitement looking forward to end of the year lessons but then there’s also an inevitable crunch when you realize how little time you have left to wrap things up.

The added layer is that there is a level of craziness from the kids that makes these classes sometimes a little rowdier and less productive, which throws another wrench into the end of the year teaching. I’ve joked that we should tell the kids that school is out in July and surprise them by letting them out early in an attempt to delay their end of the year squirrelyness.

Students express end of the year excitement in different ways. Right now, I can’t get my 3rd graders to stop vibrating. I’m not joking. They are having a hard time settling down and they are very distractible. However, they are still into getting work done and have a good level of buy-in.

My 5th graders are checking out a little more. They don’t want to work as much as my 3rd graders but they are still doing some good work. Their issue is a level reversion, especially by the boys. There is a lot of discussion about the transition into the 6th grade in the end of 5th grade. Many girls seem to respond to this looming transition by wanting to act more mature, while a lot of the boys respond to their feelings of insecurity of being an older student by acting more immature. My 5th graders are much more of mixed bag.

The 6th graders are doing a nice job of maintaining right now. Part of this is that they have their big performance and presentation is next week so they have still have concrete and consequential work to do. My 5th graders’ big presentation was in early May. Also, the 6th graders don’t have a major transition to think about moving into 7th grade. They just go down the hall to a new locker bay.

Then there are my 8th graders. I don’t know what the term is for the 8th grade version of seniorities, but it’s definitely a thing. Even though they are performing a song for their 8th Grade Tribute (our version of 8th grade graduation), they started mentally checking out weeks ago. Right after out concert in mid-May, they walked into class expecting to do nothing. Despite all of their whining and complaining, they have been having some good music classes and I’m really looking forward to their upcoming performance. However the effort it has taken to get them into the right mindset and navigating the layers of teenage attitude has been exhausting. One of the things that it's important to remember at this age isn’t to judge their opinions and thoughts on what they say.  Instead its important to focus on their actions. Right now their actions are demonstrating a good level of work and commitment.

We can’t forget the teachers. You would think that the teachers are starting to mail things in but they really aren’t. Two of my fellow teachers who are retiring are not letting up at all. They are driving hard all the way to the end and when I’m feeling at all like letting some things go their dedication is inspiring. No one would blame them for skating a little bit towards the end of their career but they continue to keep at it and that dedication is one of the many reasons I’m going to miss them so much next year and beyond.

There’s two weeks, lots of grades and comments to complete and the end of the year rituals.

Here we go, time to finish strong.

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