The end of the school year for many is about marking off the days, pulling off the paper from the chain, or changing the number on the calendar. I’m fighting the count. On multiple occasions, I have erased the number that students have written on my board. Also, I have ignored the numerical mutterings of my coworkers. Finally, I have tried to stay in the present with my students. Staying in the present (aka end of the year survival) requires a lot of me:
- I must continue to be up and moving in the classroom.
- I must continue to engage students.
- I must keep them busy and working.
- I must continue to assess and encourage growth (even though any growth I promote now is for the good of someone else’s scores)
- I must continue to remind them (and myself) of the things they have to do.
Focusing on things to do is all about prioritizing (once again I am thinking of my OLW, my one little word to live by for 2015). Also, like the language arts teacher I am, I am connecting to literature and using it as a way to make meaning out of life–yes, my dear Watson, THE-ME-ssage of life is emerging here.
Lately I have found myself quoting Brian Robeson from the novel Hatchet, a novel my class read earlier this year. I keep telling my students that we are like Brian and that, “There [are] these things to do.” I tell them there is no shutting down. I refer them to the board with the tasks to do. I ask them to dive deeper into The Outsiders to pull out the themes. I push them to complete the next part of the project. I ask them to self-evaluate and encourage reflection and metacognition. Yes, there are these things to do.
As Brian changes as the story moves towards its resolution (RL6.3), he finds himself moving from thinking about “the things to look at” and “the things to sort out,” to the “things to do.” As Brian tries to deal with being stranded in the wilderness and the struggles of the secret/divorce, he finds himself distracted from the task at hand: survival. In chapter 11, Brian is changing and is realizing that he must prioritize and focus on the tasks at hand. In chapter 11, Brian reminds himself several times of the things he has to do. These little reminders keep him focused on what he needs to do in order to ensure his survival.
Like the naive Brian from early in the novel, I can get caught up in the things to look at and the things to sort out and lose sight of my priorities forgetting that, “THERE ARE THESE THINGS TO DO.”
Right now I’d like to hug Gary Paulsen for his indelible words that will help my students and me focus, endure, and persevere ultimately ensuring our survival.
Remember friends, teachers, and students: