Do not let the title fool you. The last thing I am doing is counting down the days of school that remain. As of today there are “36 days & counting”. For those of you who are counting them down…shame on you. Please stop.
I have been writing this post in my head for the last week or so and as I have been editing draft after draft, I have been able to read some great posts from other educators who share my sentiments for counting down the final days of school. We collectively agree. DO NOT DO IT. I appreciate the transparency Pernille demonstrates in her post below. Be honest. We have all counted down at some point in our careers. I cannot put my finger on when my mindset shifted, but it has. Has yours? Will yours?
Adopt another approach to the “36 days & counting” mindset. It starts with leadership. I do my best to model the mindset. We all know this time of year can be difficult. Students can be emotionally drained. Teachers can be emotionally drained. Leaders can be too. Amber does a great job of pointing this out in her article referenced here.
She says, “It’s OK for passionate, committed people to be tired. That doesn’t make you any less awesome. It makes you human.” She is right. Recognize when you are tired and drained and do something to fill yourself back up. In my case, as a leader, I need to check myself. I need to recognize when I am tired and refuel so I am able to help refuel others.
Ultimately we have a decision to make. With “36 days & counting” I see two options.
Count down the days, each day drawing closer to the end. In doing so, the message delivered to staff, teachers, & students is that the year is “basically” over and what we are doing now is not as important as what we did earlier in the year. After spending the year educating students about the importance of perseverance and grit you begin to model the exact things you fought so hard to overcome. What you once valued as a learning community has diminished and collaboration has turned into busy work. The message of being a life long learner has fallen short, taking time off as the summer quickly approaches.
Seek to build momentum as you head into the off-season or what is otherwise known as summer. As an athlete and sports nut, I view the final “36 days & counting” as the home stretch, the 4th quarter, the bell lap, or the bottom of the ninth. Continue to create lasting relationships. Keep motivating your students and colleagues, inspiring change. Teach and learn from the group of students you have poured into all year. Make your own momentum.
As a sports season comes to an end you will hear coaches comment on building momentum heading into the off-season. I believe the same can be said about education. Buildings, teacher teams and students can use the remaining days as a spring board into the next school year. Buildings can begin laying the groundwork for efforts that will carry them forward into the next school year. Teacher teams can reflect on practices and begin making positive changes that will carry over into the next school year. Students can strengthen their foundation of learning making the transition into a new grade level less of a leap and more of a skip.
There are “36 days & counting”. We have a decision to make. Which option do you choose? What mindset will you adopt? Do you show up for game 7 and look to hit the winning shot? Or do you embrace the remaining days and “make it count” as Paige Givens inspires us do to below?
I hope you choose to join me and the authors referenced above this spring. Let’s rally, lifting one another up so we may continue to inspire positive change in our schools and be the change we want to see in others. The final 36 days of school could be the best 36 days of the year. If you want them to be.