Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Last Day of School That Wasn't

 by Krissy Venosdale

One of my favorite things about being an educator is building relationships and connections with students, parents, other teachers and leadership.  The end of a school year always brings a shower of mixed emotions:

I am elated that I get to spend time with my family, relaxing, reading, writing and renewing my love of education all at a slower pace than during the school year.  I'm invigorated by the professional learning I will do by reading, collaborating with others on twitter and Google +, and by attending one or two focused learning opportunities - this year it will be #cuerockstar Las Vegas Teacher Camp.  These are the all about me relationships and connections I look forward to.

In contrast, as I spend the last couple of weeks with my students, I experience a whole different set of emotions.  I often catch myself looking out at my students and thinking about how far the class has come growing together as learners and collaborators.  I think about each student and see his/her individual growth, struggles, successes and year long transformation into a stronger learner and thinker.  My heart smiles as I scan the room re-living the moments we shared and watching as they complete end of the year explorations.  At the same time there is a feeling of sadness at the thought that I won't get to see their faces everyday as they enter my classroom and I struggle thinking about letting them go.  I wonder how I will ever build connections with the next group of students coming in a couple of months at the same time I am excited about the prospect of new classes.  Then internal fight inside my brain takes me from tears to laughter with just a thought.  Finally there is always the nagging feelings of emptiness as I say my final goodbyes for the summer.  I call the entire rush of emotions "The End of the Year Magic"

Many of you experience similar emotions at the end of a school year, or the end of a sports season.   Finishing up my first year as a curriculum coordinator brought me to the end of a school year at a loss for what I was feeling.  There was no classroom(s) of kiddos to experience the  "The End of the Year Magic" with.  It is a similar feeling to celebrating a holiday or the birthday of a loved one who is no longer with us for the first time (ironic that I am writing this on Father's Day, my first one with my Dad as an angel).  I was surrounded by a global sense of emptiness and wondering of how do I get the "The End of the Year Magic" emotions back in my new position at the district office.

Those thoughts bring me back to the picture and quote from above, it is all about the connections and relationships that you build and so here are my goals for next year:

  • Continue to build connections and relationships with teachers, administrators and learning support staff
  • Work with administrators to become instructional leaders for their sites and not just building managers
  • Look for teachers' strengths by getting into classrooms as often as possible (instructional rounds using Google Forms to make notes)
  • Build capacity in all teachers by emphasizing their strengths and providing support in their areas of struggle
  • Create a district resource of "experts" (I'll probably call it something less intimidating) so that teachers have colleagues they can ask for help or support.
  • Provide the foundation and supports for the teachers to grow as lead learners (it's not about me!)
  • Implement a #geniushour for teachers who want to learn and collaborate and share new knowledge
I will continue to work on this list, but the main thing is to do for the teachers what I did for my students when I was in the classroom - make it so they do not "need" me.  Then at the end of each year, I will look back on the teachers in the district with the same emotions and feelings I felt for my students for the 23 years I was in the classroom.