I was a visitor in a building yesterday and on a huge screen in the cafeteria there was a countdown to summer. I’m not a fan.
The students were chatting and I decided to ask them about it.
“So you guys, I see there’s a countdown to summer break up there. How do you feel about the countdown to summer?”
The first student confirmed my assumption.
It gives me anxiety. I have so much to get done before the break.
A second student chimed in as she looked back and forth to the students next to her,
“I’m dreading summer. I’m going to miss you guys so much!”
So why the countdowns? I suppose it encourages students that freedom is coming, as if school is a sentence to be endured. It might be that a teacher wants a visual reminder that his/her freedom from the students is coming; however, neither message seems very positive. Here’s why I wish countdowns would go away for the sake of students:
For some students, breaks from school mean physically moving to another house. Students may have challenging summer scenarios such as moving to another parent/guardian’s home for summer custody arrangements.
For some students, summer means food insecurity. We may joke about cafeteria food but it’s available and nutritious. Summer breakfast or lunch programs can fill a gap but they may not be close to students’ homes or convenient for consistent attendance.
For some students, summer means lack of supervision. Students may not be supervised while parents work and they may even find themselves in charge of younger siblings.
Although teachers may find countdowns motivating, the countdown mentality may actually do more harm than good:
Teachers may be giving the signal that they can’t wait to be away from their students. Instead of beginning the day with enthusiasm, teachers may be sending the message that school is a “sentence” in which to be endured.
Teachers may be reinforcing a message that the time left is insignificant and that there isn’t much time for more learning to take place.
Teachers might be sending the message that the time to come is more important than what is happening today.
No matter how educators feel about countdowns, summer break is coming. Perhaps being mindful of how our students perceive the impending break from school can help us help them to navigate what awaits them. We owe it to ourselves and our students to take advantage of every opportunity to build skills for all aspects of their lives, including the summer months ahead.
School is never out for the professional.One of the great joys of being a lifelong learner is visiting schools and having the opportunity to get ideas to pass on to our students. Last week I had the privilege of visiting Junction City Middle School. They are utilizing a “short cycle” formative assessment strategy within a framework for teaching by Steve Ventura at Advanced Collaborative Solutions. Any talk of assessments can guarantee a few groans in our test-crazy school climate, but Mr. Ventura’s work is geared toward low-risk, short cycle formatives, that encourage a culture of errors-as-process in a 4 step formula of continuous improvement. His website even touts the adage:
What would your students be willing to accomplish if they knew they could not fail?
Teachers work in teams as they approach a new unit. Each student’s strengths and challenges are kept in mind. Here are some photos of the charts this team used to move their students (a lot of them) forward:
Not only was this fun to see, but one of our own EdCats was part of this team and their presentation! Please consider sending is what YOUR building is doing as an innovative practice in schools!
One would not think such a large district (28,000 students) could move so quickly but innovation abounds among a progressive administration known as LEAD 512.
Here are a few highlights of current initiatives in SMSD:
Ed Tech instructor, Cyndi Danner-Kuhn works with Instructional Coaches, teachers, and buildings on more and new ways to infuse curriculum with technology. SMSD has one-to-one technology and a tech explosion is taking place in classrooms
Dr. Socorro Herrera and some of her staff members at the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy (CIMA) are providing professional development for seven elementary schools in SMSD. See some of the excitement right here on a link to their FB page.
Using SWIVL technology, our Professional Development School allows for distance supervision of K-State student teachers in SMSD. Our students from the Kansas City Area love the opportunity to live at home while they student teach! Our college is becoming nationally known for our pioneering work with SWIVL technology.
There are some exciting new initiatives coming for Fall 2016, stay tuned and find out more reasons we are proud of this innovative collaboration!
This semester, the Office of Innovation and Collaboration has bridged a partnership between Ft. Riley’s Bravo Battery and USD #383 to recognize teachers who have served our country. Bravo Battery Captain Steven Maxwell, Soldiers, Dean Mercer, and COE students have enjoyed surprising veterans and their students.
As these heroes and “she-roes” share their military career highlights with their students, we have been touched by their stories and their students’ reactions to these important contributions to the freedom we enjoy. We hope you enjoy seeing some of the salutes!
What an exciting time to be a part of the College of Education at Kansas State. We talk a lot about Family at Kansas State University. We talk it and we walk it. So welcome to a little family reunion right here on this blog.
Who are EdCats? College of Education students and alumni of the College of Education. Not sure if you are? Here’s a little quiz:
The word Catalyst makes you smile.
Bluemont Hall isn’t just a building, it’s a memory that includes all 5 senses.
When people mention K-State in a conversation, you’re pretty sure they think they know…but they don’t know your K-State.
We want to keep your College of Education experience going. We want to continue to provide opportunities for growth and collaboration after you graduate. We want to see your classrooms, exchange your great innovations and ideas. We’re even planning to get together at a Tailgate next fall. (It doesn’t get more FAMILY than that, does it.) Join us!