Spring Has Sprung: Teacher Edition

Jessica Farris, “In it Together”

Let’s face it.  We are all losing our minds. Or at least a little bit. This month’s theme of “Spring has Sprung” can allude to joy and rainbows and warm weather and blooming all around us.  But it can also bring to mind severe weather, chaotic winds, uncontrollable sneezes, and the evaporation of best laid plans.  Nobody knows this better than you all: faculty working every day in classrooms with students.  Here’s what SPRINGS to your mind when asked about your lived realities these days:

What characterizes the general atmosphere of classrooms and schools during the month of April?

  • Kids are gone all the time! Definitely a billion events going on at school, with holidays to boot! (Shannon Watt, MS Choir)
  • Loss of learning time! (Susan Pace, 7th ELA)
  • Everyone is ready for summer!  (Austin Killebrew, 9th Math)
  • schedule changes and student pull outs are incredibly challenging! (Linda Rodriguez, US Faculty & Virtual Programming)
  • PK2 children are maturing, so challenging behaviors have reduced. Students are also more capable of independent tasks (using the potty, grabbing their own paper towels, etc.). (Catoria Mozee, PK2)
  • ​​Spring Fever is real. (Marty Kelly, 9th English)
  • Spring in pre k 4 is my favorite time of the year. THe kids have been mastering the daily schedule, their jobs in class and how to resolve conflicts all year. THis is the time they shine. THey are very confident in all these tasks and I can begin to ‘take a ‘backseat’ and let them run the class. It’s really awesome to watch! (Kim Sewell, PK4)
  • Lots of activities! (Cyndi Irons, MS Art)
  • In April I turn into Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms during May Day practice. (Rachel Newman, 2nd grade)
  • DISCOMBOBULATED! The kids, the schedule, lesson plans, assignments, duties. It’s like we all forget how to “school”. (Margaret Mains, 5th History)

Got any funny stories about “SPRING MISCHIEF” that have gone down in your classroom/school? 

  • We’re all gearing up for our last massive essay of seventh grade over here, and the kids are a little concerned about the fact that they have to handwrite a 1000-word essay. So….no mischief this week really….other than a few kids struggling to find a way to show respect to their teachers and friends.  (Susan Pace, 7th ELA)
  • I have a group of boys in my class on the baseball team who have enjoyed “practicing their throws” during my class. They practice with markers, sharpies, paper balls…whatever they can find! (Austin Killebrew,  9th Math)
  • Everyone gets a little “off the rails” in the spring – the weather’s great, the end of the school year is just around the corner, and nobody wants to be in class!  My seniors, especially, are incorrigible!  I have a small group of boys who are so pesky that I have had to ban them from leaving the class together!  Journalism is often about filming student interviews and I allow my class the freedom to wander with the understanding that they will come directly back.  Well, once I found this group of boys playing ping pong.  Another time they found a baby turtle and were gone from class for an hour trying to figure out what to do with it.  Yet another time, they were hanging out in the library watching their friends play video games!  UGH! (Linda Rodriguez, US Faculty & Virtual Programming)
  • A student brought me her planned absence form on which she had written that she would be absent on 3/31 and 3/34.  (Marty Kelly, 9th English)
  • Years ago on April Fool’s Day, I went to get some coffee during break. When I got back to my classroom, the entire room was backwards – even my heavy desk was moved. Well planned and executed! (Hannah King, 5th grade ELA)
  • A few years ago, two of my boys (who NEVER got in trouble) wrote down every cuss word they knew on the prayer paper in Little Chapel and turned it in to the prayer request box. Mr. Mac came to me with it and after we stopped laughing in the hallway, he took the boys to see Mr. Alford. Those boys are in 10th grade this year and I still have a copy of the list in my desk. (Rachel Newman, 2nd grade)
  • At another school, for April Fool’s day (My first in the classroom)- I told my 6th grade class we were going to have a documentary day during state testing. I told them that the documentary was great but was in Spanish and had subtitles. We were learning about Mesoamerica at the time so it fit. I also made an elaborate “notes” sheet for them to fill out while we were watching it. There was a lecture about how they needed to take this seriously etc. etc. I must have really sold it–  before I could say “April Fool’s!” several students burst into tears and started sobbing about the work load. More joined. Not even the real game/fun day I had planned could salvage the mood. The class turned into a “pass the tissues” heart to heart about the stress they were feeling about the end of the year and testing. Lesson learned– Be gentle with April Fool’s day! Spring is hard for the students too!    (Margaret Mains, 5th History)

What ADVICE do you have for other faculty to get through this final quarter of the official school year?

  • Keep marching forward! Take a breath – we will all get to May and graduation at the same time! (Shannon Watt, MS Choir)
  • Spring semester-we just show up and teach whoever walks through the door! 😁(Anna Johnson, as shared by Shannon!)
  • Pick your battles. So your most challenging student has chosen to shimmy up her shirt and wear it more like a crop exposing her belly button…? But she greeted you and talked to you about her weekend plans. Ignore the belly…focus on the interaction. (Susan Pace, 7th ELA)
  • Just breathe and write everything in pencil: things will change!  (Austin Killebrew,  9th Math)
  • PROJECT BASED LEARNING!  (Linda Rodriguez, US Faculty & Virtual Programming)
  • Don’t overplan; lessons should be stimulating, but not at the expense of your sanity. 
  • We all have home lives and other responsibilities, so don’t expend ALL of your energy when you are already stretched thin. (Catoria Mozee, PK2
  • Hold on to your hats. And don’t fight being on an outdoor campus; use it. (Marty Kelly, 9th English)
  • My best advice is to keep your students very busy. Keep moving forward until the bitter end! (Hannah King, 5th grade ELA)
  • Go outside! (Cyndi Irons, MS Art)
  •  My advice for teachers in linear subjects at the end of the year is to individualize as much as possible; some students will need a mile deep and an inch wide; some students will need the exact opposite. . . as much as one could say “your goals for next year .. .and therefore I MUST” . . . you’re going to the next level so you really need to have a contact point with all of these skills versus you’re not going to carry on but you found a deep interest in and I can support you in that.  (David Kelly, US Performing Arts)
  • Stay in your daily routine as much as possible. (Rachel Newman, 2nd grade)
  • Be gentle with yourself! Nothing is going to go exactly how you planned/hoped. You’re doing the best you can! Students will remember the fun and craziness of this time of year not that one lesson you didn’t quite get to. (Margaret Mains, 5th grade)

Just for fun, what is the most apt metaphor for spring at St. Andrew’s?

  • Why do we even have classes? HA! Just kidding! Crazy busy would be my word. (Shannon Watt, MS Choir)
  • A tire that’s quickly deflating….? i tried – it’s hard to be metaphorical at the end of a very long week. (Susan Pace, 7th ELA)
  • Switchback turns on a mountain road. Things just keep changing. (Austin Killebrew,  9th Math)
  • Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If things are going well, don’t question it. If things are hectic, be glad it isn’t worse. (Catoria Mozee, PK2)
  • School in the spring is like a zoo during a hurricane. (Linda Rodriguez, US Faculty & Virtual Programming)
  • You’re running the final leg in a relay but you’ve dropped the baton and then you see they’ve added hurdles and you are simultaneously herding feral cats. (Marty Kelly, 9th English)
  • A butterfly flitting from one thing to another! (Cyndi Irons, 5th Grade math)
  • Treading water in the deep end with only one nostril above the water. (Rachel Newman, 2nd grade)
  • I always say that the beginning of the year is like jumping on a treadmill that is already in sprint mode and it takes a while to get into the pace/groove of things. The spring feels like you’ve been sprinting on that treadmill since August and are exhausted and weary. (Margaret Mains, 5th History)

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