Heard from some of my teacher friends who work in the New York City school system. Many are ready to tear their hair out alredy. I just finished my rotation in a school as a Teaching Artist and I fully understand. I was a full time Drama Teacher for the NYC DOE (Department of Education). I’m not sure when your last marking period ends, but in NYC schools, they ended last Thursday. A MONTH BEFORE SCHOOL LETS OUT!
So, the students are ready to check out, and many have. Yes, there is detention. Yes, there is still homework/busy work being given out (but, if you’ve already passed the last marking period, where does that assessment go to?). It’s hot, sticky, and there really is one thing on everyone’s mind: Vacation. Forget that quite a number of teachers and students will still be IN school (Summer School), and so will the school administration. That’s not what this is about.
I am not current on all the various school shut downs, nor when marking periods end, not only around this country but around the world. I have to, at this moment, assume that the last month of school is tough for all concerned. The kids want out, the teachers want out, the parents want them IN (lol).
IF your school system extends school beyond the last marking period, why? Besides the “baby sitting” accountability of numbers for funding, why drive everyone crazy?
Does that mean they should be let out as soon as the last marking period is over? Not if you still have a month to go, like NYC and other systems do. I do have an idea, a suggestion, a thought, that I’d like to share.
I suggest that if the core curriculum is no longer being assessed until just about the last day, then make the time educational as best you can, but in a totally different way. I’m not talking throw the DVD in the player and sit back (which a LOT of teachers do, especially the last weeks of school; don’t kid yourself that you think this is not true). Engage. Excite. Find all the things teachers have complained that have been eliminated during the school year of testing and DO THEM NOW:
- Inquiry based programs
- Creative Drama
- Trips to local gardens, museums, etc
- Walking tours (when possible)
- Inter-Class projects and partnerships (both media tech and other)
- Chess Clubs (yes…almost any after school CLUB idea; builds community, teams/ensemble, critical thinking, creative thinking, multiple intelligences, peer social engagement
- Reading Project Partnerships (older grades mentor younger; “tutoring” students for next year)
I did not have to think hard, or in any particular order (so, please don’t take any slight if you interest is placed where it is or not even on this list). The students and teachers shake things up, are more socially engaged instead of just sitting watching a movie or playing games, texting, listening to their iPods, etc.
What do you think can be done to make that last month of school enjoyable and educational for all?