Check the handy dandy countdown calendar over there in the doobly-doo.
Eighteen more days until the last day of school for students!!!!! Far too many exclamation marks for a highly effective teacher, I know (or for a highly effective writer). But surely you remember the excitement and anticipation of the end of school and the beginning of summer vacation. In school days, that’s thirteen and a half! After that, I will have the opportunity to re-calibrate my socio-psycho orientation through intensive therapies involving the absence of poorly spelled profanity and of heated debates regarding someone’s mama, grandma, and the entirety of their generation. Word to me, civility will surround me like a blanket.
As thrilling as it all is, it has been dampened a bit by the fact that our district decided very late in the game (six weeks ago) that it would implement the new thousand point, computer-based teacher evaluation system that was originally slated to begin next year. Just in selected schools (ours included). Goody.
What does this mean in real life application? It means that everyone who is being evaluated via this system must undergo a scheduled and an unscheduled observation, complete with major questionnaire and lesson plan and lengthy conferencing with administrator. Doing this during the last 13 1/2 days of school does pose a few problems, not the least of which being that June is typically not the apex of the instructional year, for teachers or for students. You might expect to see students spending a bit more time outside than usual at this time of year (for our school, that would mean spending any time at all outside), or perhaps playing games, like Around the World or even the much-loved Heads Up, Seven Up. A math lesson during the last two weeks of school should include some component of students using cotton swabs to clean chalk trays. This doesn’t translate real well into a learning objective that is expected to be posted for every lesson. Still, I shall give it the old college try:
Objective: Students will estimate the number of cotton swabs required to clean a chalk tray to spotless perfection, then determine the actual result by conducting an experiment.
Objective: Students will supplement previous research about careers in the custodial field by using appropriate noxious chemicals to bring their desks to an acceptable level of cleanliness, then will compose a five-paragraph essay describing their process.
Objective: Students will improve their fine motor skills by removing every single staple from every single bulletin board or surface within two miles of the classroom, thus obtaining clearance to receive their report cards and leave the school. This lesson will be differentiated for different learning needs by allowing some students to remove masking tape, some to remove sticky-goop, and others to remove traditional staples.
Add to all of this the fact that our rooms were stripped of any personal AC units last year, and you’ve got yourself a sticky, sweaty mess 0′ attempted learning that will supposedly be going on right up to the bitter end. Let the countdown begin. . .