Heather Wolpert-Gawron

10 Weeks Left of School for the 8th grade class? Think Again…

By on April 15, 2013

There are 10 Weeks left of school for our 8th grade class.  Wait!  Not so fast.  Let’s do the math.  Take our initial timeline of 10 weeks and begin to subtract the end-of-the-year obligations:

Minus one week for some teachers that are piloting the SMARTER Balanced Common Core computerized assessment = 9 weeks left.

Minus one week for the California Standardized Test (CST) = 8 weeks left.

Minus one week for all teachers who are piloting the teacher-created 4th Quarter performance based assessment for data and reflection purposes = 7 weeks left.

Minus one week for Oral Presentations of final classroom projects (app designs, iMovie book trailers, digital movie posters, etc…) = 6 weeks left

Minus one week for the 8th grade Washington DC trip = 5 weeks left

Minus one week of final 8th grade madness like learning to walk down the promotion aisle, trip to Knott’s Berry Farm, Panoramic Photo Day, meeting with the high school counselors day, prepping for Open House, etc…= 5 weeks left.

The end result is actually 1/2 the time we all thought we had together.  Our time has been split down the middle, and as a result, we are spending as much time assessing and planning for assessments as we do in each others’ company learning, exploring, teaching each other, guiding, reading, writing, struggling, achieving, goal-setting, reflecting, and enjoying the learning.

There is so much about school that is beyond a teacher’s control.  The books may read so much instructional time, but the reality is much more complicated than that because our schedule’s are not so cut-and-dry.  But I’m not complaining.  After all, many of these upcoming activities are incredibly valuable to these students, but they can corrupt the impact that I might have on their seeming achievement, if test scores are any indication.

This countdown doesn’t have the voice of a teacher who is excited about the fact that summer is almost upon us. It has the tinge of panic about it.  This countdown is more about how little time I have left to do what I still want to do with these students.  It isn’t a countdown to that final bell before break; it’s a countdown to reality, a snapshot of how little time I have left with these kids.

As a teacher, you have this new family that becomes yours each year, and at the end of each year, that family goes away, drifting away down the various paths of life.  Some visit you again; some don’t.  But you have an impact on each other.  And it is at this time of year that I begin to wonder the impact I have had on my students, and  I begin the seasonal reflection on the impact that they have all had on me.  It is a time of both joy and sadness.  It is a time of happiness for their accomplishments, joy for those whose lives I somehow helped, and great sadness for those I may not have reached in the time I was given.  It is a time when I scramble to see what more I can do, another last ditch effort to connect, before they all go off to high school and beyond.

This year, the school year seems to have ended sooner somehow.  Looking at the math, I can see why.  I hear your heart breaks when your own kids go off to college and leave home, but every year, a teacher’s heart breaks just a little for other peoples’ kids as they go off into the world.

This year, it feels like we got less time together, but I will stand on the train station and wave them on in the hopes that what little time I had with them will one day help them grow.  T minus 10 weeks and counting…


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  1. Chris Miraglia
    April 19, 2013

    I concur as an 8th grade teacher who with similar issues of trips, having to pilot Common Core units, review and administer state testing, and try to implement maybe two weeks of instruction in May, there is a sense of unfinished business and reflection. Did I prepare them for their high school experience? Our last month and a half really has little to do with actual teaching much to my disappointment, but as any veteran 8th grade teacher knows this is part of our system.

  2. James Petzke
    June 30, 2013

    It always amazed me when I was in school that so much time was dedicated towards standardized testing at the end of the year. After all, if teachers were allowed to simply keep teaching during that time, students would learn more and wouldn’t be stressed out by these massive tests.

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