New Teachers

The “Fast and Furious” Homestretch

As the school year wraps up, savor the progress you’ve made as a teacher and team member, how you’ve helped others, and how they’ve helped you.

May 18, 2015

To people in the education world, it comes as no surprise that Fast and Furious 7 has been at the top of movie lists these last few weeks. We are in the time of year when each day is "fast and furious" as schools charge toward the conclusion of the year. In many ways, it's hard to believe we have already hit May, and it seems like the blink of an eye since school started months ago. Where has the time gone?

Savoring the Moments

What's exciting to see at this time of year is the growth of students and the evolution of the classroom environment, which is due to the skill and care that teachers have put into creating and cultivating learning spaces where students can try out ideas, take risks, explore their passions, and start putting together culminating projects to capture the various skills they have acquired in class.

In an English class, I witnessed a Socratic seminar that was flawless. It was student led, and students built upon ideas, agreed to disagree, used textual evidence to support their arguments and ideas, and captured subtlety. Clearly, the teacher laid the foundation of skills needed to have this discussion run so smoothly.

In an art class, I watched students enter the beginning stages of a final semester project focused on finding and telling a story from the past. One student sketched out fabric for a stuffed animal he had drawn in fourth grade. He wanted to bring it to life.

These "moments" are happening all over schools every day, and it's important to recognize growth and development, especially at this time of year when fatigue sets in and the pace of days quickens with end-of-year events.

How to get through the homestretch?

Celebrate Student Growth

For teachers, take time to look back at your classes. In your mind, go back to September and those first days of school as you were getting to know your students, working through awkward situations, uncertain how to find the "catch point" for lesson design and engagement. Appreciate how far you have come with your classes and with your students. Pat yourself on the back. Take a deep breath and reboot for the final few weeks.

Think of one student that you have reached this year. When did things start to click or shift in your connection with that student?

Maybe it's a student who was petrified to speak in front of the whole class and who is now able to give fluent presentations.

Maybe it's a student who struggled to write a thesis statement for a persuasive essay and who is now sharp and precise with language.

Maybe it's a student who grew frustrated with mistakes in painting and who is now comfortable seeing opportunity where those "mistakes" used to be.

Maybe it's a student who is now organized and on top of turning in assignments on time.

Maybe it's a student who now greets you in the hallways but who shied away from interaction earlier in the year.

Here to Help

Find the small, everyday moments to appreciate and reflect back on. This is the time of year when it's critical to take one or two steps back for a fresh look at all that you have helped to build in your classes with your students. It hasn't been easy, and it's been frustrating at times, but you are almost there.

Appreciate a colleague who has helped you through a challenge this year. Take some time to reach out to that colleague, thank him or her, and share how much of a difference he or she made in your teaching world.

Think of a time when you were there for a colleague. Check back in with that colleague to see how he or she is doing now.

Even though the days are fast and furious, recognize that the work you are doing is helping students grow and develop. Recognize how, through your efforts and day-to-day perseverance, these students are now demonstrating the skills and habits of mind that you have worked so hard to cultivate.

Fast and furious it is.

Thank you for all that you do for students.

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