At this time of the year…

Next week is our last week of school before Spring Break. This is always a hard time of the year for me because I realize that we’re in the 7th inning stretch. I feel like I’m running out of time. Soon, it will be time to say goodbye to my students for the summer. Normally, I am full of regrets about things I could have done better; about things I could have done, but didn’t do; and about things I did and shouldn’t have done. Typically, I will beat myself up over the small and medium regrets. But, this year I resolve to silence the regrets with the knowledge that I acted based on the information I had and with the best of intentions. 

At this time of the year, I feel like I could walk out of my classroom and let my students manage themselves. I’ve actually had to do that a couple of times since January and they’ve done better than my best expectations for them. They know what is expected. They know that when they don’t know or aren’t sure, they can count on themselves and each other. To be honest, just writing this down makes me burst with pride for my students. I take this as evidence of their learning, their victory, an example of how much they’ve grown as individuals and as a class this year.
At this time of the year, I try to let go a little bit more each day. What new routine can the kids take over as their own? What more decisions can they manage to make by themselves? What new challenges can they pursue? 
It’s an exciting time of the year as my students look forward to summer vacation and middle school in the fall. Will the middle school teachers be pleasantly surprised at all they can do? If not, I can fill them in on what may not be observable. I can happily tell the story of each of my students – where they were at the beginning of the year, the challenges they faced, and how much they have learned and grown. This learning may not be evidenced through MAP scores or other standardized tests because what they learned counts, but cannot be counted. It cannot be quantified, but it should be celebrated.
At this time of the year, I recognize that the silence in the room during independent reading is the sound of my students reading. 
At this time of the year, I recognize that the buzz of small group work is the sound of collaboration. 
At this time of the year, I recognize that every student in my class can help others when they’re stuck. 
At this time of the year, I never hear groans when it’s time for math. 
At this time of the year, read aloud is a special time and no one ever wants it to end. 
At this time of the year, we joke a lot and my kids actually get some of my corny jokes. 
At this time of the year, I wish I could loop with my students; I don’t want to let them go. 
At this time of the year, I feel more confident and sure that what we’re doing is learning for life and not learning for a test. 
At this time of the year, every day is a celebration.

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