Making Over Third Grade!: Getting Ready for Next Year
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Friday, May 20, 2016

Getting Ready for Next Year

Each year that I have been in the classroom I have begun planning for the upcoming year during the last trimester of the year I am teaching. Sometimes this is just a matter of new name tags and
supplies. Sometimes, like last year, it is a complete remodel of the bulletin boards. It is always full of the anticipation of boxes and the promise of a new school year. One of the many things I love about teaching is that each year is a new beginning; a chance to start over, try new things, make new discoveries and memories. Some years I can't wait for the coming year and all of the promise a new class holds. Others I deeply mourn the loss of the class I have. Many years it is somewhere in between.

Before my mom died in 2013 I cried massive tears at the loss of "my kids." Since her death, the mourning for the end of our year together is still there, but not as devastating as it used to be. There are always tears...I have not made it through one year without crying on the last day. Most of the time the tears are due to my feelings alone. Sometimes it is due to the kids who are crying too.

This has been a difficult year. We have had a lot of bumps in the road but they are great kids, and it has been a challenging, though good year. We have 9 more days left and I want to help the kids (and myself) get used to the idea that the year is at an end and with it will come sorrow but also the promise of great adventures ahead.
So I plan...I plan the lesson ideas, let the kids see the new items for "the new kids" (as they call them), and I have them help me prepare the classroom for check out. I also do a great deal of self-reflection. What went well? What could I have done better? How did ____ work? How can I improve the lessons, and my teaching, for the coming year? While I do a lot of self-reflection throughout the year, as the year winds down I can't help but think of what will be different in the coming year. The anticipation of summer fun and the promises the kids make to come back and see me next year when they are in fourth grade, are enough to help me let go. Not entirely though. They are "my kids," they have been "my kids" all year, and they will always be "my kids" no matter how many years pass by. So I plan...I plan to help me, as well as the kids, get used to the end of the year and the painful good-byes that will come.

What about you? Do you start planning for the coming year during the spring? Why, or why not? I would love to read your comments on this.

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