Teach up until the kids leave on the last day?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pisces_Fish, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I'm wondering what it's like for other teachers this time of year. At my current school, life has been so much better than last year :) Last year's principal made it very clear that she wanted us teaching every moment of every day until the very end. Aside from collecting textbooks (to check if any were missing) we weren't allowed to clean cubbies, linger a few extra minutes at recess, read a novel aloud for the heck of it, etc. Kids and teachers were sooooo worn out from testing, and the last 2 weeks dragged. Behavior problems ensued.

    This year, my principal has told us she wants meaningful instruction to happen everyday, but she's fine with us cleaning up, having an ice cream social, watching Sarah Plain and Tall the movie (we read it this year), etc.

    My class is hyper of course, it's to be expected, but overall it's much calmer and pleasant. What's it like at your school?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    We teach until the last minutes of school. We due clean out lockers and work on some cooperative learning experiences, but it is still academics until the kids leave for the summer.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    At every school I taught at, things begin to wind down somewhat the last two weeks of school. There is still teaching going on, but there's more focus on fun science activities, pe, history, etc. You know, the things that aren't allowed to be done pre-CST time.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Our is the same as peachyness. Before last week, everything was as normal. At the end of that week, grades were due, so nothing for a grade could be done anyway. Then we had a 4 day week last week and we have 3 days of school this week. Last week, we did academic stuff but it was more "fun" stuff that you can't do /don't have time for normally. With my morning groups, I did some fun science experiments and had them write a little bit about them (make predictions, write about what happened, I notice/I wonder charts) etc. In a resource room setting I never get to do just "fun" stuff like that. My kids LOVED it and I really enjoyed it to. In the afternoon I did math games focusing on practicing whatever main skills I taught their group this year. This week, there won't really be any academic stuff going on. Tomorrow, we are having an all-school assembly and then k-2 and 3-5 awards (each section is around 2 hours). In between those times, kids will be cleaning out thier lockers/desks, taking all their work for home, etc. I'm meeting with each of my groups one last time for a little "goodbye party." On Tuesday, the morning is dedicated to packing up rooms (we are moving schools and have to have everything boxed up by the day after the last day of school). After that, we're having a barbeque and the teachers are going to play kickball against the 5th graders. Wednesday, our last day, is field day.
     
  6. MandaNicole01

    MandaNicole01 Habitué

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    :thumb:EXACTLY! How sad is it we use two weeks to teach "fun stuff" at the end of the year?! Too bad we don't teach "fun stuff" all year! That stuff is important!;)

    My kids LOVE it! :) I toss the normal routine OUT and we do "fun" science, drama, art, social studies, PE, cooking, and end of the year projects!!!:cool:
     
  7. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Aw, but you're kinder. You get to sneak in fun stuff throughout the year!!! :D I LOVED teaching kinder.
     
  8. MandaNicole01

    MandaNicole01 Habitué

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    Haha!:lol: Right you are!:) When I taught fifth my kids would go crazy to do shaving cream on the tables at the end of the year... To my kinder kids, they enjoy it but it's definitely not as special this time of year!;) Kindergarten is the BEST though!!!:)
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Today is our last day of classes. I'll be teaching right up to the bell.

    I can understand that elementary is different, but I don't think vacation should start until school is over. It makes me crazy when my kids come home saying they watched a movie (even a Disney movie :) ) in class.

    Teachers perennially claim they're not babysitters, yet that's what I would expect of my babysitter.

    I'm fine with things relaxing a bit. But I think learning should still be going on.
     
  10. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I'm referring mostly to not being able to clean up last year until the kids were gone. It was so stressful not being able to do anything until the first workday. I had 23 desks and cubbies to clean, 23 desks and chairs to move the the other side of the room, 4 computers to pack up, yada yada.

    My P says it's okay with her if we use the last hour of the last day to have the kids move the furniture off to one side. I like knowing I can have my workdays to finish cum folders, assign kids to classes, pack up totes of stuff to work on over break, and clean, clean, clean!
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I guess this is my point: we should be teaching each day, all year long, as though a the head of the PTA and the principal were both observing us.
     
  12. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I try to do that too, but you're right it's really overwhelming. We had a 1/2 day as the last day this year (usually a pure teacher workday). I tried to start packing some of the stuff and the kids were helping me, but if I wasn't staying in the room for Summer School I would have been just panicked and not able to get it all done.
     
  13. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    My contract year ends on the last day. After that I'm a volunteer. I'd love to teach up to the very end. But then they would have to extend my contract year (at about $250 a day).

    Don't see that happening any time soon.
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Why Sarge? Is packing up your room one of the duties listed in your contract? My SO's company doesn't pay to pack up the office. It is done on personal time.

    I'm confused.
     
  15. ally06

    ally06 Companion

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    Our school year ends in December so our last couple of weeks are full of Christmas concerts, liturgies, crafts etc. We are asked to keep the students engaged in meaningful activities during this time but we are definitely 'winding down'.
    I slowly pack up the room over the last week and the children help with bits of this. On the last day most students go home at lunchtime (after Mass) so the ones remaining play or watch a dvd and help me finish packing the room. I usually manage to get it finished that afternoon.
     
  16. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I'm a firm believer in teaching every moment possible, but for many of my kids, they won't see their friends all summer. We are a rural parish and they scatter to the winds when summer comes. They (and I) have worked hard all year. The last couple of weeks after testing become more relaxed. We do more of the fun activities that we didn't have time for during the year (our CSI activities, etc). We had an entire science day. From first bell to last all we did was science labs. They loved it! The last week is usually a 2 or 3 day week. That one is for the kids. It's semi-structured, but we are doing puzzles, playing board games, etc. And yes, we are cleaning. I am expected to have the floor of my room completely clear (except for computer tables and file cabinets). The kids help me pack stuff out and clean. I guess because we have worked so hard, I don't see anything wrong in letting them have some fun that last day or so.
     
  17. DrivingPigeon

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    Our last day is this Wednesday (it's an early release day). Today (Monday) is a normal day in my classroom. Tomorrow, things will begin to wind down. We're still doing Daily 5 in the morning, but I will be collecting guided reading books, and passing out my end-of-the-year gifts to my class. We also have an assembly at the end of the day.

    Wednesday is kind of a crazy/fun day. We have yearbook signing, cleaning out the classroom for a bit, and then our end of the year party. After lunch, we are having a kindergarten ice cream party and recess.

    So, I'm pretty much teaching until the last day.
     
  18. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Well, here is the view of a preschool where I get free rein. We get to do fun stuff every day! But really, we learn until the last day when I flood the sand pit and put out sprinklers and we do a mud and water day and celebrate summer parties with an ice cream party. Half the parents supervise the mess and the other half come inside to pack up. We all bring a change of clothes. Note to self - bring a bra and underwear too. I got soaked to the skin last year and had to sit in an afternoon meeting damp under my clothes. :lol:
     
  19. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    This drives me nuts as well. Actually, the last time we went to rent a video (something we do only very rarely), we struggled because my kids had seen so many movies before in school.
     
  20. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    But does your SO's employer require that he clean and pack up his office so that they can move everything and wax the floors in the summer?

    I would gladly lock the door and leave my room the way it is right now for the summer. But I am required to have everything put away, all surfaces cleared, all books inventoried, etc.
     
  21. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I had planned on using the last hour of our last classroom day to do some tidying up, but some other activities (including planting flowers around the school) took longer than I anticipated. I think involving the kids (especially the younger ones) in doing some cleaning and organizing can teach some valuable skills, and most of them REALLY enjoy it. I think that's very different than just plugging in random movies, though.
     
  22. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Not to mention that many elementary schools plan tons of activities that last week of school such as field day, assemblies, year book signing (which is a big event), ice cream parties (which was required one year! The school supplied the ice cream), etc. So, to everyone who says that they can't imagine NOT teaching until the last day, sometimes we can't because the principal and the school staff planned these activities!

    AND, I personally, don't think there is anything wrong doing these social activities the last week. We worked hard all year, now let's get together and celebrate!! It's a shame that high schoolers don't get to do this, besides a dumb ole high school dance (which I'm so not into) :D
     
  23. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    And then when you do have all those activities scattered around, it's almost impossible to use the one random day in the middle or an hour here or there to do any normal, 'routine' teaching. We do a lot of projects for those reasons--when we have time, we can work on that.
     
  24. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    At the middle school I just finished working at, it's all-movies-all-day for the last week. It drove me nuts! The students still switch classes, but they watch a movie in each teacher's class. I tried to teach them a few more things, and only showed Bill Nye videos, and I nearly had a riot on my hands. I'm so glad to be done with that school.
     
  25. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    What??? wow! I would have just had them put their heads down then for the rest of the period. I mean, that was just pretty rude. And I LOVE Bill Nye!
     
  26. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    My last two days of school did not involve many lessons (but no movies were shown- I was probably the only one who didn't show one though), but we had field day, end of school party and awards ceremony. The kids are allowed to be checked out on the last day after their grade level ceremony is over so I only had six left after 10:30. They played games, skip counting and division races, and for the last forty minutes we played a math game.
     
  27. SunnyGal

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    I teach high school and we do some social activities towards the end of the year. :)

    We have End of Course testing mid-May, so we have about 2-3 weeks after that. I teach The Outsiders during that time. The kids LOVE it. After we read the book and have a unit test on it, we watch the movie and make Coke floats. This is one of the few films I show during the year (the others being Romeo and Juliet and parts of O Brother, Where Are Thou? to go along with our unit on Homer.)

    We do some school-wide things, too. We have a Spring Fling day where we have an awards ceremony in the morning and then afterwards, the kids get their yearbooks and spend about 3 hours outside. We have some field day-type activities, a DJ, and some other stuff for them. It's a really fun day for the whole school.

    I agree with the others who say that we've worked hard all year and it's not a bad thing to do some fun things. You can do fun activities that are still educational. Granted, our Spring Fling day isn't educational, but I don't think that's a bad thing, either. It's a day for us to enjoy being a school community.
     
  28. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Absolutely.

    Take a look at the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon. Or look at some of the Nat Geo films.

    There's a ton of incredibly interesting educational stuff out there.

    But "Bring a board game to school day" isn't one of them.
     
  29. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    It never ceases to amaze me how much the county I grew up (and currently teach in!) has changed. I'm only 27 and the end of the school year used to mean pizza parties, playing with toys in class and endless recess. When I was a little older, like 6th grade, we'd watch movies, make lanyards out of string, play Seven Up and other games and sit around talking to the teacher and each other.

    Now, at my current school anyway, we are expected to teach up until the last day.

    There are no special programs, which is making these last two weeks drag by. The kids are with us all day and they stop getting specials two days before the end of the year.

    Our principal said we are supposed to teach and my team mates told me that during the last week of school she sends her "spies" (ie: math specialist, certain paraprofessionals and the science/tech coordinator) to check up on teachers. They pretend they are there to drop something off or to ask you a question, but really they report back to her and you'll get called to her office after school and/or an email reprimand. :eek:

    What I want to know is does the board of education and whoever else our principal answers to REALLY expect to see children learning up until that last day?
     
  30. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Same here, Em!
     
  31. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    We still have 4 weeks left (including this week), so of course there's still teaching. But, I have already loosened up a bit on our schedule to allow more time for learning projects. It is so hot here right now that the kids are done by about 1-ish. Even with 3 fans going, we are burning up in our little room. So, even with 4 weeks left, we are beginning to wind down (I think of it as front-loading in the beginning).
     
  32. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Think of all of the teacher complaints though about not having enough time to teach the kids what they need. Not being able to work in critical thinking activities and analysis activites, etc. Every grade complains about the time crunch and what a disservice it is to producing well educated students.

    Then you have hugely divergent approaches to the end of the school year with some having a week or more of field days, movies, picnic reads, parties, etc. The other schools wanting the required school hours to be spent utilizing the time to teach those things that have been complained about and used as excuses during the year.

    I can see the push to teach up to the last minute to keep routine, which in turn helps behavior, reach more topics or go in depth in more topics that time didn't allow for earlier in the year. You know all those things you say you would teach better if you had more time before "the test". Well, here it is - time. I can see a principal saying use that time you have been looking for all year. It may not be helpful for "the test" but it should be beneficial for the student.
    Kids aren't there to be babysat but to be educated. Lion King for the 12th time doesn't do that.
     
  33. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I even taught guided reading groups the last week of school. I do admit the last day isn't as productive because I just want to play with the kids because I will miss them. A lot of kids don't come that last day and we teachers sometimes find ourselves combining classes to make it work. I find education related things they like to do the most throughout the year (lots of games) and add a second recess. That's on the very last day. They spent time reading their All About Me binders and their work I compile of theirs throughout the year. We talked about where they started and how much progress they made. I also read my summer letters to each of them.
     
  34. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    We are still doing state testing! Is anyone else still testing? This year we only have about a week afterwards, and after field trips, picnics, concerts, assemblies and whatever else they throw in there, our schedule seems jam-packed. We also have to fit in DRA's and writing assessments.

    In years that we have more time after the end-of-year tests, we do projects and fun things, too. Last year we had two weeks after testing, so we did mathletics, science day, health day, research projects and a field day.

    It's my policy all year that, unless it's a science or social studies video, I only show movies at lunch bunches.
     
  35. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Our last day is the same as the students last day, which is tomorrow. We have professional development for next year starting Wednesday and going through the end of the week. Beginning next Monday, my room will be used for a summer program. The children will be helping clean and pack up the room tomorrow because there is no other time for it to be done. I have had to complete not only the close down for my room involving records, but for the other class on my grade level as there has been 3 different subs in that class since March. With the amount of administrative work that is required, the school should provide a work day at the end of the year if they really want me teaching until the final bell.

    I think there is a big difference in the end of the year between elementary and secondary. When I taught secondary, I didn't have to complete permament folders, and there was much less stuff in the room to clean up and put away.
     
  36. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Good point. I think that's why we don't get those teacher work days. We're expected to get our rooms done when we get to them. I did some yesterday after school, and I'll do more today after I finish running off my final exams.
     
  37. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    At my school, in primary grades, we don't have specials, planning periods or teacher work days. If the kids are at school they are either at in the room or at recess. But in grades 4-5 they have specials twice a week and 6-8 all have a daily prep period.

    We all have to do folders - though the superintendent said we didn't anymore, the principal forgot he said it.

    Also, I have a very picky janitor who has a fit if the room isn't clean before she cleans it.
     
  38. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Oh, and here's another big difference between secondary and primary. In both cases, our kids have checked out mentally by this point. But at least with secondary you have a final exam you can hang over their heads until the very last day. When I was in high school, our very last act was to take a final exam. Then we went home.

    My first graders don't take a final. So pretty much any academics I try to do will be an uphill battle.

    I may be able to teach up until the last day, but I'm not sure the kids would be learning.
     
  39. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I have 17 days left, and yes I am still teaching. I am assigning projects and assignments this week to carry us through the next 4 weeks. Sure, there will be interruptions with picnics, swimming and field days. But when we are in the room I am making every minute count. I still have learning outcomes to cover! I believe that if I give up, so will the kids and the behavior will deteriorate from there.
     
  40. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Explain to me what these folders are that you have to do at the end of the year.

    As for me, I have a bunch of clear large tote boxes. I just put them all in a row in the middle of my room. It literally only takes me a few hours after the last day of school to pack up the entire room. Last year I filled 16-18 boxes. My husband came by at the end of my packing and took a load home. I took the second load home. Viola. It's done. I am lucky enough that a para will stop by and take down my outside board right after school and work a little on my walls until their contract time is over. So I do get almost 2 hours of help on my walls. If I didn't have that, I might have started emptying out my cabinets little by little during the week. I try not to show evidence that the classroom is tearing down before the last day. Even when I was the para, that was always my goal as well.
     
  41. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Everyone's folders may be different.

    In mine, I have to fill out a section in the back with semester and year averages, whether the student performed as excellent, good, fair, or poor, the number of days present and absent, whether the student was promoted, placed, or retained, and my signature.

    Inside the folder I have to put a stapled packet for the current grade including the at risk form, the final report card, TAKS scores, RtI card, placement or retention letters, and intervention documentation.
     

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