This week’s #YourEduStory topic is about “The Slide.” When students return from Spring Break, they sometimes suffer from the week off and require some work to get back on track. The momentum of learning can be interrupted by this week off.
Or so they say.
I personally have never really witnessed this. Sure, the kids come back a little sluggish on Monday morning (as does yours truly), but by Wednesday, it’s like we never had break at all.
I do see a slide, however, and it is greater than a one-week interruption. And THAT is the 8th-grade-itis slide. You see, I teach in a small (280 students for grades K-8) Catholic school, and many of my students have been together for nine years. Those kind of restraints would be challenging in the best of schools, and it is compounded by the fact that many of them will soon be attending some of the best and most exciting private high schools in the nation. Their sights are set not on this world, but the one hereafter. Starting in January, the reality of saying goodbye sets in for all of them. This leads to a greater sense of “checking out,” as they care less and less about what happens here.
This puts me in the position of great challenge. I must do everything possible to grab hold of and keep their attention. I must constantly innovate, as what worked for the Class of 2014 probably won’t work for the Class of 2015. I must–at times–leverage the power of technology to allow for student creativity, while at other times, I must share personal anecdotes to maintain strong teacher-student relationships. I must reach out to some students while I hold the line with others.
Perhaps most importantly, I must carefully navigate these challenges in a healthy manner. I cannot give in to making excuses, but I also cannot blame myself for everything in the classroom. This challenge gives me the greatest stress but also the greatest sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Ultimately, this challenge is what continues to push me to become a better teacher.
I wouldn’t give it up for anything.