Today, I finally figured out the real cause. Today is the last day of our last intersession.
Due to serious budget cuts everywhere, our school is losing our modified calendar status. Next year we'll go back to being like everyone else. This saddens me (and obviously makes me cranky) for numerous reasons.
- Many of our kids will lose a lot over a long summer. Especially our beginning readers in kindergarten and first grade. Many will not speak English for the entire summer, much less have opportunities to practice their reading.
- Intersessions offer our students myriad opportunities to learn about different things. This is a perfect chance for us to help expand their background knowledge. They learn about different sports, foods, hobbies, etc. all through skills they need. Losing that is going to hurt them in reading, writing, and being able to make bigger connections in their learning.
- These times build significant community in our school. We have over 800 students and there is no way to get to know them all. However, we get to know other kids during intersession and that is good for everyone. We can share our thoughts with other teachers, offering a fresh eye on their students. We can greet those students throughout the year and continue to build relationships.
- As our old principal used to say, "We are running sprints instead of running a marathon." If a teacher needs a break s/he doesn't have to teach intersession. If families want (and are able) to keep kids home or to travel during that time they can. It gives us fresh starts throughout the year rather than running ourselves ragged by March (or December some years).
- Personally it gives me a chance to clean some things up. Intersession is less intense than the rest of the year and kids can work on projects or activities while I spend a bit of time cleaning out some of my teacher closet or a filing cabinet drawer or just sorting through the piles that grow on my desk in no time.
As I write this our intersession coordinator is beginning the final dismissal process. The students are wrapping up their last big art project created out of repeating, growing, and number patterns. And I'm ready to cry.
(Some of us did make an effort back in the fall to gather DRA, Developmental Reading Assessment, scores for first and second graders. In previous years we have not done this assessment in the fall, we have simply used the spring assessment from just a few weeks before. We gathered the data this year in order to compare it to next fall when the students will have had a much longer summer. It will be interesting to see if this gives us a smidgen of hard data to show our district.)