Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Bother in Winter?

Over the next month, our schedule seems to twist and turn and not settle down... ever.  Some people enjoy this, and it would be dishonest if I said I didn't count myself amongst them at times, but it's extraordinarily disruptive to the education process.  Having solid weeks with no days off is extremely helpful in maintaining order and routine, which our students in particular crave/require.

Here are the upcoming disruptions to deal with:
  • January 11th- Three grades in our building have a testing day and go home early.  This will trickle down in some way, shape or form to the the grades I teach.
  • January 12th- Predicted snow storm will bring down attendance- regardless of whether snow falls or not.
  • January 17th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day- an important holiday, but I'm sure Dr. King, if asked, would say he'd prefer students to be in school (perhaps those in poverty in particular).
  • January 21st- A winter dance in the afternoon, which, while not taking up class time, certainly lens to plenty of distraction.
  • January 25th-28th is a testing schedule during which students only really report for the tests they take.  No "real" instruction occurs.
  • January 31st is the end of our first semester- no students report.
  • February 11th- Half day due to Parent Conferences, which is preceded by a school day going from 7:30-8:30, with Parent Conferences tacked onto the end.
  • February 21st-25th is our Midwinter Recess, which means no school.  This tends to irritate people in the Midwest until they've been released for summer for over a month and we're still in school.
The first two weeks of February each year have also felt as if classrooms are in more of a holding pattern than moving in a particular direction.  Many teachers are also prone to counting down the days until the next break, which seems to entrench the this holding-pattern psyche.  Instead of working (and sometimes fighting) toward something, those who adopt the mentality are weathering the storm and working to survive.

While it might be raining one everyone's parade, I crave the five-day weeks knowing full and well that the regularity will allow us to cover more material in less time.  Projects are not chopped up through the breaks like my next large one will be.  We're undertaking a massive school culture initiative with a nod from the administration, which will be more difficult as the research and work days will be scattered across a couple of partial weeks before the deadline we were given.  Hopefully our pitches for a school mascot don't boil down to a last-minute PowerPoint on vampires, lobsters or the Yankees.

With the staggered start and stop, students will also forget about the web of historical ideas we've carefully woven day after day (or what ideally has been a web).  In the next month it will be difficult to avoid teaching lesson-by-lesson with the hope that they simply retain some of it.

And it pains a guy born in Minneapolis to say this, but I hope it doesn't snow much for the rest of the winter...

Image: http://thedeadacorn.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html

1 comment:

  1. From a guy who was also born in Minneapolis, your statement about not wanting snow leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. I wag my finger at you.

    -F. Lawson