Are end-of-year countdowns all bad?

Have you ever counted down to a major event? Like, counting down the days until your wedding, or your baby’s due date, or running your first marathon? Or, does your family countdown the days until Christmas? Have you ever counted down the days until a dream vacation?

As we countdown the days until those milestones, we don’t give up our enthusiasm for our work or relinquish our obligations. In fact, the anticipation is sometimes more exciting than the event itself. I get enthused by countdowns and the excitement, and that actually leads me to be happier and more engaged in my day-to-day life.

One of the great blessings of being an educator is having a new beginning and a bittersweet ending each year. In what other profession do you get that fresh start? We get to gather up every mistake we made, every idea we thought of AFTER we completed a lesson, and all that this year’s crop of students taught us and start fresh with a new group of sweet, bright-eyed students. I think that is something to celebrate and to look forward to.

As I look toward the end of the year, I do countdown. When we get back from Spring Break, I think, “Oh no, we only have nine weeks of this school year left. We have so much to do! I don’t want these fifth graders to leave us to move on to middle school, we are going to miss them so much. Oh boy, hang on tight, here we go!” High school principals often feel the same way as they countdown the precious days until graduation.

Many educators love the rejuvenation they experience during the summer, the onslaught of fresh ideas and renewed energy, and the hopeful anticipation of a new school year. Summer is educator’s season to refresh, regroup and plan for our new year. Why wouldn’t we look forward to it?

Maybe end-of-the-year countdowns got a bad rap because there are some teachers out there who do countdown to the end of the year because they dread going to school each day. I haven’t met them in my twenty years of being an educator, but they might be out there. In their case, I think we have a lot more to worry about than a countdown.

In no way do we want students to see a big countdown in our schools and get the impression that we want to be rid of them. However, teachers out there, if you have a little countdown going in the back of your planbook, you don’t need to feel one iota of guilt. You deserve bittersweet endings and fresh beginnings each year, and I want to thank you for all the time you will spend over the summer planning for a beautiful new school year.

So, countdown the days if it helps you love your students a little more each day, and if it helps you squeeze in more fun, more learning, and more relationship-building into the end of the year.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1….GO!




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