It’s that time of year again – for some educators to begin their countdowns. How many calendar days left before summer? How many actual school days left? Please stop. Let me explain my perspective…
Countdowns are great for things like the vertical takeoff of a 115,000 lb. rocket traveling into outer space, taking the last second shot before the game clock expires and hearing the scream of the crowd (or imagining it in your head while playing in a driveway) when the shot goes in at the buzzer, the number of days until the next big birthday, wedding, graduation, vacation, birth of a child…some sort of positive event. When most of my students leave, it’s the last time I ever see most of them again because they graduate and, to be honest, the teacher part of me gets pretty sad about that.
Since the first day I started teaching years ago, my number one priority has always been (and always will be) my students and their future. It has never been and never will be about the curriculum, standardized tests, parents, administration, teacher evaluations, etc. I spend an entire school year (roughly 180 days for those of us that prefer to count up instead of down) building relationships and providing an education that I can only hope extends beyond 180 days. If I never see them again, I hope the relationships that we built offer some guidance or assistance at some random point later in their lives. Although many of them come back to visit and I cherish those days, it’s not the same when they’re all grown up and not “my kids” any more.
Of course there are days when my students drive me nuts (like the end of the quarter), but like my own children (as in biological offspring), those are expected bumps in the road. My students driving me nuts for a couple days is never enough for me to start a countdown to never seeing them again. I get it…you’re excited to escape the paperwork, emails, testing, the institutionalization of bells, schedules, and holding your pee, perhaps even to go on vacation. I am too. However, if you are an educator who publicizes a countdown, you are essentially professing your excitement to not be an educator – even if it’s just for a few months. Regardless, at that point, maybe it’s time you question your motivation for working in education…honestly. Is it for getting summers off or for your students? Think about it. If you’re like me, the most important part of your job is the students. We’re building relationships and guiding and educating young people, none one of which should ever end and especially not with a countdown.
Think about it from a student perspective too. They certainly get it. They’re counting down the days until summer, too. However, if any focus or the slightest tidbit of value from coming to your class everyday is to see a countdown, you’ve reduced the value of the relationship and education you are employed to provide for them. Plus, their positive event is a graduation or advancement to the next year in the educational career.
Educators, I’m not suggesting you don’t talk with your students about your excitement for summer break. Please do. That’s called “being human.” Maybe you’re taking a fun vacation or getting some awesome professional development so next year can be even better. I’m not even saying you can’t have a countdown. I’m just asking, politely, that you keep it to yourself because to me, a countdown is simply how many days I have left with my students and that’s certainly not something for which I want a constant reminder.