It’s that time of year in schools and classrooms all across the country. We are so excited for the summer with thoughts of sleeping late, taking naps, watching television, and sitting by the beach or pool. And that’s just us teachers!
This is also the time of year when we start to see classrooms with a numerical summer countdown or those “8 more Mondays” posts on social media. And in my opinion, these need to be taken down.
Now before everyone starts throwing tomatoes at me, let me explain where I’m coming from. I also firmly believe teachers should do what works best for them in their classrooms. I just want to share what works in my own.
Eliminating the Summer Countdown
First of all, is it okay to be excited for the end of the year? Yes! Is it okay to keep a summer countdown in your mind? Sure!
The thing we need to remember is that perception is everything. When we post a numerical summer countdown in our classroom or on social media, the perception (right or wrong) is that we’re done. We’ve checked out.
A days-left countdown is a visible and public sign that can be perceived as “this teacher is done with the school year.” Now, this perception could be (and probably is) 100 percent wrong, but unfortunately, these countdowns can be seen as a negative by many.
It also adds to the false perception that teaching is a nine-month career or that we “have it easy!”
Don’t Let Your Students Check Out
Even if just a few students get a false perception that teachers are checked out, guess what happens? They check out! This is a problem because when students check out, behavior issues arise.
Here’s something else to consider with a numerical summer countdown—think about how it could affect some of our students. For many, school is their safe, loving, happy, and stable place.
For these students, summer isn’t necessarily a good time. So when we post our days-left countdowns, it can actually cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. The summer countdown becomes a constant reminder that their safe place is going to be closed for two to three months. This could mean no hot meals, loving words, or books. It could mean being alone, hungry, or even in danger.
For me, taking down the summer countdown is a simple gesture to provide these students a little more safety before summer.
Don’t Add to the Stress
As an early childhood educator, I know that during this time of year a phenomenon occurs in which our youngest students realize that they’re leaving their teacher, their friends, and their classroom. This can cause a lot of stress because they’re moving to a new grade and a lot of unknowns.
I see it every year. As my students come to terms with leaving kindergarten, their behaviors become a bit more challenging. They act out because of fear and stress. So I don’t want anything, including a summer countdown, to add to their stress.
So what do I suggest instead of the summer countdown? Let’s celebrate!
Focus on the Good Times
As teachers and students, we have much to celebrate at the end of the year. We’ve come so far together, and we’ve done so many incredible things.
For my students, we learned to read, write, and walk in line. We learned to add and subtract. And we now know how to listen, shake hands, and help our friends.
We laughed, cried, hugged, and loved. Our class has literally hundreds of moments to celebrate. So instead of counting down the days, I suggest we celebrate them.
Let’s turn those end-of-year countdowns into fun and engaging celebrations of learning. For example, instead of counting down our days left, my class has a daily alphabet celebration. Each day, we celebrate with a letter of the alphabet. We make rainbow zebras for Z, we wear red for R, we throw glitter for G, and we eat donuts for D.
Each day also begins by creating a word web of words with the letter so we can review our letters and sounds. All this fun keeps us engaged and keeps us learning. This way we can celebrate the end of the year without adding unnecessary stress or giving an unintended perception that we have checked out.
So as we bring this school year to a close, let’s celebrate our year, our students, and our colleagues in a fun and engaging way that rings in summer on a positive note.
What’s your take on summer countdown calendars? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.