Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cruise Control or Sense of Urgency

As you approach the final week or weeks of the school year, your year will wind down in one of two ways.

First, you and those around you can set your cruise control to a convenient, easy setting that will allow everyone to coast into summertime. When a school runs on cruise control at the end of the year, classrooms center on videos, parties, study halls and free-for-alls. Kids get out of classrooms as often as possible and wander the halls. Teachers and administrators directly and indirectly communicate to students and to one another, "Whew! We made it to the end of the year! Thank God summer is here." What a waste of valuable time!

Second, you and those around you can take the classroom experience up a notch and teach with a sense of urgency. After all, you are running out of time. When a school operates with a sense of urgency at the end of the year, classrooms remain focused on the tasks at hand: teaching and learning. Teachers fully engage students right up until the last bell rings. Everyone feels as though they have run out of time when class dismisses. Teachers, administrators and even the students covet the final days of the year because the opportunity to learn has an end that's drawing near.

If the second approach to the end of school seems far-fetched, idealistic and unrealistic, perhaps you need to rethink your expectations of students, teachers and/or administrators. I have been in schools where learning ended a week or two before the arrival of summer. I also have been in schools where the last day of classes seemed no different than a day in September, January or March. The way the end of the year goes depends both on how the year has gone up to that point and on the expectations that are set for all in the school building regarding how the year will wind down.

I wish each of you a final week or two filled with a sense of urgency to learn, to teach and to lead. 

1 comment:

Jim Brown said...

I've always felt that school ends with more of whimper than a bang.