Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Paper Chains

This week I came across a message from one colleague to another that referred to the paper chain countdown. Last year, this post came out at the end of April. This year, I share already. Enjoy the read and please, comments are always welcome.
Recently I joined in on the Alabama Ed Chat (#aledchat) hosted by Jennifer Hogan and Holly Sutherland. The conversation centered around how we as educators can finish the year strongly and maintain growth both for our students and for ourselves. That conversation inspired this post, Paper Chains.

"I can't believe the last month of school is already here!" she said as she walked down the hall with her friend to math class. "I know," she quickly fired back. "What are we going to do?"

It was in this moment that I was reminded that summer vacation may not be all that it is cracked up to be like many of us may think. Sure for some students and teachers, it is a much anticipated break. There is time with family, vacations and a break from the routine of traditional school. However, the reality is that many kids (and maybe even an educator or two) that would rather be in these halls with all the "rules, guidelines, teachers, homework, academic expectations and friends" than what the unknown other option may be. That other option, that unknown, is what many of us may not realize what awaits them.

And with that, I sent the message that the paper chain was going to take on a new meaning. The paper chain was now going to be viewed in a way that had not been considered before. This new view of the paper chain would have a sense of learning, not a sense of time passing by.

Instead of counting down the days until summer vacation by removing a link of the chain each day, we will remove a link of the chain that will be counting the days of learning remaining, of being with friends, of getting the most out of our academic journey. And with that, our outlook on the final month changed. It would change in a way that students and teachers would embrace. Our pledge:

We will commit ourselves to learn all that we can. 
We will teach like it was the first day. 
We will invest in ourselves and our students and our colleagues like we had just met. 
Our passion would be our drive. 
Our lessons will keep "selling tickets". 
Our expectations would continue to rise and our desire to connect with the learning will not reach an end. 
We will be there for our students knowing that this will be how they will remember how we taught them and how we cared for them. 
Our colleagues will feel the same.

I would end with this message and the message that I shared in the chat the other evening with this, "The last day(s) should be (and will be) as filled with as much energy and passion as the first." I challenge you to do the same. Rethink the Paper Chain.