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Full Steam Ahead: The End of the Year

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Education is the place to be.  Where else does one have the ability to inspire a group of young, malleable minds to reach beyond their wildest dreams and mold a future that holds endless possibilities?  That is certainly a tall order for 180 days. 

As the year winds down, how do we keep the shiny determination and resilience of the first day of school?  It seems like just yesterday the smell of wax permeated our nostrils as we excitedly sharpened a bouquet of bright yellow pencils.  Their shavings falling to the ground like confetti on a parade route.  Flash forward to today.  The wax is just as worn as our patience.  The fresh, flowery spring air activates a hormonal switch that now only knows one position: on.  In middle school winter pants have become spring bermudas (literally) and flip flops are all the rage because shoes do not fit anymore.  One last item: it's testing season.  All pre-service teachers should complete a practicum entitled, "Hormonal Spring: The Dawn of the Teenage".  Please, don't confuse this with a horror movie, new graphic video game, or water training for the Navy Seals.  For those of us who have endured it for several years, learning to surf is your best option. 

Hello SummerWhat do I mean by this?  Show up each day in your Volkswagen van (because that's how they see us), throw the door open and put on the best show possible.  Fill it with excitement, energy, and fire.  Literally, fill it with fire.  Creating a fireball in class will have them eating out of your hands.  It also really gets their attention.  They like to stare at bright shiny things.  For those concerned about the fire code:  I get it.  The chief and I are on a first name basis.  Stick to your comfort zone and put on the best show your nerves will allow.

My point?  Bring your "A" game until the last day of school.  Take every moment you have to stretch their minds and push them out of their comfort zones.  Disney and Universal are not paying us to show their movies until the end of the year.  Invoke a little Genius Hour time or set up a Makerspace.  When students pursue their own interests, the results are often powerful.  Plan a mini field trip around your campus or turn your room into a tropical island.  Use devices to go on a virtual field trip or mystery Skype with another class.

As the year ends, make them not want to miss a single second with you.  Leave your footprint in their path so that they may look back on it forever. 

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After graduating from the University of Cincinnati I began teaching sixth grade.  I have taught at the same rural Appalachian school district for the last 20 years and consider it an honor.  Learning is my love.  Continually taking coursework is my second hobby.  While I have earned my masters degree from the University of Massachusetts, I have taken classes from Penn State, The Harvard Extension School, Savannah College of Art and Design, the University of Cincinnati, and The University of Queensland. 

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Guest Tuesday, 06 December 2016