End of the Year Checklist

Unless you’re a teacher, you have no idea what the end of the year truly involves.

Here is just a small sample of things that must be done in the final weeks (think 3 or less) on top of teaching:

  • input final grades
  • write report card comments
  • turn in report cards, adjust according to feedback
  • file report cards, IEPs, attendance, end of the year checklist, final exams, grade promotion, and any other important paperwork–and yes, file by hand
  • end of the year awards: decide, make, send out letters, attend
  • end of the year celebrations: promotions, festivities, graduations all require planning & clean-up
  • take down classroom (days’ worth of time)
  • clean entire classroom (scrub desks, wipe down boards and shelves, empty out drawers, remove all food from every corner of the room)
  • take home any personal items (the extra pair of shoes, your water bottle, the candy drawer–all that cannot stay over the summer)
  • return school property: books, curriculum, posters, manuals
  • return emergency items: first aid kits, emergency plans, emergency signs, etc.
  • end of the year trainings (WHY?!)
  • meetings and trainings for the next school year (Why? I’m not going to remember in 8 weeks what was discussed, or who I met!)

Optional, though often obligatory, or added joyful obligations:

  • signing everyone’s yearbook
  • creating an end of the year gift for students and families
  • attending added events–the ones not affiliated with your current assignment, classroom, or school (ex. former students’ graduations and promotion ceremonies)
  • end of the year celebrations with co-workers/other teachers

The end of the year is filled with a number of added layers of responsibility. It’s stressful, but on that last day . . . bliss.

 

Teacher Tip #7

Purge.

You’re cleaning up your classroom. You’re taking down bulletin boards. You’re taking down anchor charts. You’re removing decorations. You’re packing away books. Right now, you have the momentum, time, and energy to purge.

You do not need everything in your classroom. Some of the things you own are destroyed, and cannot be repaired. Some of things you own will not suit your next assignment. Some of the things you own are already outdated. Some of the things, well, you just didn’t use and don’t see yourself using in the future.

Take a step back. Look carefully at what is in front of you. What do you really need?

Consider the following:

  • Making a box for new teachers next year.
  • Giving things to other teachers in your building.
  • Giving things to students.
  • Donating to a local library or summer program.
  • Throwing things away.

It is better to give things away than let them collect dust. If you haven’t used it in a couple of years, give it to someone that can use it.

It is better to give things away than throw them in the trash. Kids want those anchor charts they made with you. Those incomplete marker sets can mean the world to your students. It’s okay to give your students some things to take home.

It is better to make space in your room for new things than to find yourself cluttered, taking things home, or opening a storage unit.

Right now, as you wrap up the year, look closely and carefully, and purge.

Things I never knew . . .

Installment #9:

Five things I never knew . . . until I became a teacher:

  • teachers are more excited for the end of the year than you can ever imagine
  • schools have a lot of trash, between cabinets, classrooms, desks, and lockers the amount of trash is startling
  • the end of the year is crazier than the beginning of the year
  • schools have an obscene amount of paperwork
  • schools have a ton of parties and celebrations–in and out of the classroom

 

Special Education: Part 2

Students that qualify for special education can fall into a number of categories. While the most severe and visible categories of special education are usually displayed and discussed, as noted in my first post, special education is broad, complex, and includes a number of services for each individual’s circumstances.

When I speak with non-educators, or when I have watched the news, the students who need special education services are limited in understanding–the range and diversity of students is not evident in the discussion, nor adequately represented in any forum.

Therefore, let me list some categories, demographics, and populations to illustrate the wide-range of need, services, and students that qualify for special education:

  • blind/visually impaired
  • permanent and temporary physical disability
  • deaf & hard of hearing
  • speech impairment
  • language delay
  • specific learning disability–i.e. dyslexia
  • intellectual disability
  • multiple disabilities
  • other health impairment (the all-encompassing category)

Within each of these categories, there is an abundance of diversity. For instance, five students with language delays in the 2nd grade can have 5 different levels of severity in their language delays due to previous support at home and at school, as well as other factors such as the underlying cause of their language delay.

Technically, IDEA has 13 broad categories for special education (autism, blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment). That’s not to say that these categories cannot overlap, will not change over time, or be renamed. Our understanding of health and education is constantly evolving, and so are the labels and practices tied to them.

These categories do not touch on a student’s gender, age, primary language, first language, religious orientation, place of birth, citizenship, family structure, or overall schooling experience. All of these individual factors influence the best placement, ideal service, and the development of academic goals.

The point in all of this is to emphasize that special education services are incredibly vast because the range, diversity, needs, and abilities of students is equally vast. So, in the next conversation on funding, on who will teach what, on where students should be placed, on what constitutes special education, on who needs special education, etc. extend that discussion as far as possible–because that’s how far special education extends.

Teacher Tip #6

It’s just a test.

It seems that the end of February we start entering a delightfully misunderstood and stressful season: testing season.

There’s quarter tests and WIDA about this time of year. These are followed by state-standardized tests, which are then followed by the next set of quarter tests.

These state-standardized tests and quarter tests, if you’re in secondary, may overlap with PSATs, and special subject exams (think AP). There’s also, of course, every other normal test sprinkled in between all of these *big* *important* tests.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in elementary or secondary, there’s this near two-month testing window rapidly approaching and I’m here to remind you: It’s just a test.

I have fallen victim to the stress and I passed it onto my kids. Don’t do that. They’re already stressed, they already know that these things are a big deal. So, I implore you–remind them: It’s just a test.

  • It’s one day out of 180 this year.
  • It’s one day out of however many they have accumulated over the years.
  • None of these tests are measuring their kindness, their dedication, their hard work, their perseverance, or any number of far more important qualities and traits they possess as human beings.
  • Tests can be taken again.
  • Tests are singular snapshots; they do not measure every aspect of learning and growth.
  • Tests are subject to human and technological error.
  • Tests are like every other assignment–there will be multiple opportunities to show just how much they have learned; today, and this test, are not the only opportunity to demonstrate learning and growth.

Tests–state tests, district tests, exit exams–are important, but they’re not the most important determinant, measure, or indicator of educational excellence. Remember that, and remind your students too.