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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Coaching Myself Forward on the Final Days of School

The final days of school are busy in so many ways--there's administrative work, teaching, and end-of-school organization and clean-up. Young children also often exhibit behaviors that illustrate their yearning for summer, worries about the end of the year, and exhaustion due to all the special events, celebrations, and sports.

Educators always try to create just-right endings to the year, endings that match students' energy, excitement, and trepidation. We work to strike that just-right balance of quiet, comforting tasks to end-of-year reflections to playful exploration. In fact as I think about this, I recognize that it might be interesting to discuss the end-of-the-year with multiple educators to think about this from multiple perspectives. I noticed a Twitter chat about this and it may have been a good idea to get involved.

As I think of all of this, I want to coach myself forward to do what I can to create a positive end of the year for each child. And end of the year that will include the following events:
  • Outdoor naturalist study and exploration: Students will have time to hike, care for, and learn about the lands and waterways around them. As the teacher, I want to encourage their happy and enthusiastic exploration and listen and respond to their needs and questions in relation to this.
  • Safety Talk: Students will hear the local police officer and firefighter tell them about safety in order to make their summer fun safe and enjoyable. 
  • Pack-Up and Clean-Up: We have many summer lists and packets to send home with students on Thursday, and we have desks and other areas to clean-up.
  • Goody Day: It's our turn to treat the staff to breakfast
  • Celebration: It's a day of play and celebration to mark the end of the elementary school years.
  • Clean-up and Organization: Time to put things away and then rest up, catch up, have fun, and study with the year ahead in mind. 
There's been lots of learning this year, learning that I'll reflect on and write about in the days ahead. Onward. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Teachers Work for the Students

Amidst the politics and bureaucracy at schools, teachers ultimately work for children--we do our best by them.

This isn't always easy since many all around you project what you should be doing and what's in your best interests often without ever asking you, and you simply can't please all that surround you. That's why it's important to keep your focus on doing what's right for the children.

It's the last week of school and there have been so many interruptions to the program created--interruptions that have taken a lot of energy, energy that I need to teach the children well and manage their programs. It's unfortunate that the end-of-school can't be an all-hands-on-deck time to care for and serve the children rather than focus on a large number of tasks that take our attention away from the classroom.

I think if we think carefully about the year, we could probably do this differently.

When You're the Bearer of Bad News

I've never thought a lot about bearing bad news as I've thought of it more as telling the truth, relaying the facts, and being honest. Yet recently I was the bearer of bad news, and the consequences were not what I expected. Rather than seeing the bad news as the culprit, I was seen in that role instead.

What's a teacher to do?

I actually looked up what it means to be the bearer of bad news and found a good article about when engineers face this quandary. Imagine if you are engineer and you notice a technical flaw on a building or bridge once that structure is almost complete--a flaw that would cost the company a lot of money to fix or potentially a lot of lives if the building is left without repair. This is bad news that no construction company wants to face, however, an engineer who is ethical will report the problem and work towards right action.

Generally when I'm put in a position of bearing bad news or staying silent, I envision the worst case scenario, long range implications, and/or front page news, and choose that which is truthful and positive for those involved. Often there's the short term anguish of bearing the bad news, but in the long run, I've never regretted speaking up to injustice or in the face of problematic circumstances.

In all circumstances, it's best to do your best and live by your beliefs and ethics. This matters a lot to me.