As another school year comes to a close, there are many things I look back at fondly: Lessons I tried for the first time that had kids continuing the conversation out the door and into the halls. Faculty room jokes and conversations with colleagues that reminded me why we keep doing this job. And of course, that handful of glorious days when it feels like the entire class catches on, and it’s like the room has been filled with lightning and rainbows.
However, there are quite a few things that I’m happy to get away from. These are the student fads, trends, and topics I can only pray will fade away over the summer.
1. Bottle flipping
OK, I get it. At the behest of my 10-year-old son, I have tried to flip a partially filled water bottle upright onto the table. At first, I shook my head at such a silly waste of time. Then, I’ll admit, I became obsessed with getting it to work and once it did, I had to show all my friends. I almost posted it to social media. But as a teacher who has cafeteria duty, I say enough already.
2. The election
The best thing about the election was how much it got everyone talking about important topics like elections, immigration, minimum wage, racism, and misogyny. Now, however, it is time to do more than gripe. Teachers should set the example here. I have started volunteering at a local soup kitchen again, and redecorated my room with some posters that make it clear this is an inclusive and safe environment regardless of political narratives.
3. Fidget spinners
I wish I had thought of it, but I didn’t. So, I am just annoyed by the sound made when half dozen spin around in my students’ hands. Designed to help kids fidget less? Yeah, right.
4. Kids falling asleep because they have been binge watching Netflix
Breaking Bad is the greatest television watching experience I have ever had. High school teacher turned meth kingpin makes for some compelling stuff. Couple that with an interface that cues the next episode up for you with just enough time to take a pee, and you need some serious self-restraint. Many of my students are still developing the kind of discipline it takes to turn it off and go to bed. Grades are dropping right along with the eyelids.
Let’s be honest, we have all been doing this since our parents told us to sneeze into our elbows. It is really not that cool.
6. Snapchat streaks
“Hey everybody! I have taken inane selfies for 200 days in a row!”
I have two young boys, and the first time we made slime together it was awesome. The second time it was sort of messy. Then one of their friends got it caught in his hair. Then it got on the sofa. And then they needed special ingredients that were supposed to make it “so much better” than the slime we had. I’m good.
8. Phone games
Angry Birds seemed so innocuous, but now it is Billiards, Slither, and that absurd thing where the colorful circles roam around trying to eat up other colorful circles. Academics can’t compete. I have nightmares about all the hours students are wasting on games that are not even compelling.
9. And because it’s not just student fads that are bad … acronyms
SGOs, PDPs, PLCs, PARCC. I doubt these are going to be totally gone next year. And I am certain they will be replaced with an entirely new set of letters standing for clever new names for stuff we have all been doing for our entire careers anyway. I am giving up and throwing away my secret decoder ring.
So, bring on summer. In the meantime, I would love to hear what student fad or teacher trends you are hoping to send into the great beyond with this year’s graduates.