The Reflection Pool

Do You Do the Countdown?

This June, Amber Teamann wrote a blog post called What Can You Do in 16 Days?  It was followed up by a letter from a district colleague, Stacy, that Amber posted on the Connected Principals blog called The Final Countdown.  Both posts emphasized that the final days of school are just as important as the first days.

Photo Credit: flashblue80 via Compfight cc

We all see the countdown before the holiday break, before spring break and especially in June. Staff members shout out “Two more sleeps!” as they pass each other in the hall. There are countdown boards in the main office. Some teachers put it up on their chalk or whiteboards.  I’ll be honest – I’ve participated and with glee some years! But Stacy’s letter in The Final Countdown brought me up short. It really made me think. What message am I sending to students when I count down? School is horrible? I’d rather be somewhere else? I don’t really like them?

I decided to share the ideas with our staff. I photocopied these two, plus Justin Tarte‘s post, It’s That Time of the Year Again, and organized a quick jigsaw activity at our early June staff meeting. Teachers and ECE’s (early childhood educators) read and chatted. That was it. I didn’t discuss the blogs or make any directives. I just gave time to think.

But a funny thing happened in our school this June.  There was no countdown!  I noticed in the last week that nobody was talking in the hallway about how many days were left and especially in front of students. The whole feeling of the school was different to previous Junes I’ve experienced.  Students were more calm. Teachers seemed more focussed.  I didn’t sense the same June frenzy as in past years.

I have to say that I loved it.

3 thoughts on “Do You Do the Countdown?

  1. This post makes me beyond happy, Sue! I hate the countdown. The end of the school year always brings such mixed emotions for me and for my students. I’ve actually never counted down before, and this year when students asked me earlier in June how many days were left, and I honestly didn’t know, the students stopped asking. 🙂

    I do think that focusing on teaching until the end does help make students calmer. It was funny: this year, I took down the TLCP Board on the second last day of school (along with the other bulletin boards) because there was Play Day and I had some students to help. Almost immediately, that afternoon, I noticed the difference in my class. The board came down and the students went into summer mode. It really made me realize the value in keeping routines consistent until the end.

    I’d love for other schools to try this staff meeting activity as well. I’d love to know what would happen.


  2. I love this post — and I dislike the countdown. It reminds me of a realization I had early on in my career where I realized I was counting down to the weekends — and that I was, in effect, wishing away 5/7ths of my life by waiting for those two “days off”. Instead, I try now to cultivate an appreciation for the present moment, in all things – which can be very tricky – but is far more rewarding! I don’t think ahead about weekends, holidays, summer or eventual retirement, except to plan for things that require planning. I love being around people who try to do the same — it is inspiring to be around people who love what they are doing in the present moment!

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