It’s spring break, and we have 11 more weeks of school. Except that it’s not really 11 weeks because mixed in there are parent-teacher conferences, an art festival, Field Day, a Portfolio Celebration, several half-days, and two days off. It’s the home stretch, the big push, the final run, the…”are they ready?” period.
“Are they ready?”
“Ready for what?”
“For 2nd grade!”
“Well, that’s what these weeks are for right? We all gotta get our kids ready!”
Sitting at school today, planning for the upcoming weeks, I found myself falling right into that kind of thinking. This many weeks means this many opportunities for guided reading instruction, which means I need to meet with this many groups each day because they’ll never be ready if I don’t. This many weeks means this many more chances to practice this skill or that one because they need to know these things in order to be ready.
But really, this is all crazy-talk. My goal as a kindergarten teacher isn’t to prepare kids for first grade. My goal as a first grade teacher isn’t to prepare kids for second grade. The goal of a second grade teacher isn’t to prepare kids for third grade. RIGHT?! What ever happened to learning and growing for the sake of being productive, caring, lifelong learners? If our primary goal was to continuously get kids ready for the next grade level, then every teacher would just gather up curriculum materials from the grade beyond theirs and crunch it all into their numbered days so that when the kids arrive the following year their new teacher would be impressed when they all say, “Oh yeah, we’ve done this!” And the next year that same teacher who “prepared” her students so well would have to gather up even more advanced material in order to keep up with her own accomplishments. Soon enough, kindergartners would be excelling at algebra. Obviously crazy-talk.
These weeks should be about living large. About celebrating the community we’ve built in our classroom and working hard so that as the year closes out the relationships are at their peak. About diving into learning exciting things and taking advantage of the autonomy the kids can have because they’ve made it through so much of the year already. About being outside and playing together in the beautiful weather. About trying things that I wasn’t confident would work earlier in the year. About letting kids try things that they weren’t confident they could do earlier in the year. About reflecting and being proud of growth.
If we do all of these things, then I’ll feel pretty ok about sending the kids off to their next year of schooling, even if I don’t get to as many guided reading groups as I’ve planned.
I think that next time someone asks me, “Are they ready,” I’ll simply respond with “They’re ready to PAAAAAARRRTY!”
[Just kidding. Probably.]