Dear Courageous Leader,
It seems impossible that I am writing the May newsletter article. Another school year is drawing to an end. Everyone in the school is looking forward to a much deserved rest. As a teacher and principal I always found the last weeks of school to be a peculiar time of year for instruction. It was difficult to find the balance between organization and staying the course. “Time to turn in textbooks” versus “continuing instruction toward academic gains” always seemed to pose a challenge.
Truth is, in today’s high stakes testing environment we do not have time to shut down early. Frankly, as much as they may push against it, our kids deserve learning opportunities through the very last day of school. When you look at instructional time on a global scale, our students already receive a reduced number of instructional hours.
Best practice would tell us to stay the course by assessing student knowledge, planning meaningful lessons (optimizing instructional time), and then reassessing their newly acquired level of knowledge. It is equally important to help students reflect on their growth. Provide students with the opportunity to review where they started last fall in comparison to where they are now. This information could be found in benchmark assessment data, writing samples, or surveys. This process helps students take ownership for their learning and set goals for summer learning opportunities.
The year is drawing to a close. Hang in there! Make every minute count. When you return next fall, you will be glad you did!
Sherry and the IEE Team