The same affirmation can be heard from educators across the United States, in any district, and in any school: “It’s just a crazy time of year.” We have all said it at one time or another. The spring semester is hectic with budget preparations, hiring new staff, administering state assessments, and battling “spring fever”. But do we have to vilify an entire season?
The whole notion that spring-time is and always will be an inevitable, Sisyphean struggle has been ingrained into educators. For many of us, it seems as irrefutable as the laws of gravity. I never even questioned it until I received an email from a colleague earlier this semester. Essentially, they stated they were determined to make this spring as fabulous as the rest of the school year. At first, I shook my head and thought, “Bless their heart!” I mean what a naive and gullible statement. Even Fred Rogers and Daniel Striped Tiger would eye roll such rose-colored thinking.
But then I considered the weight of her words. Do I really believe each spring will always be unavoidably awful and if so, how much time have I wished away? I did some quick calculations. Using our 19-20 school calendar I divided the number of days in March, April, and May by the total number of school days. The answer was depressing. I’ve wished away 43% of each school year.
If you believe that March, April, and May will always be a tough time of year, then it will be. But it doesn’t have to be this way. My napkin math convinced me to find joy during the spring semester and “remove the suck from spring”. I’m wrapping up my 17th year and I find myself in unfamiliar territory: I’ve got fewer days in front of me than behind as an educator. It’s forced me to think about my legacy and what I hope to leave behind. Do I want to survive and endure thirty years as an educator or do I want to make an impact each and every day? My goal is the latter, and I’ll never accomplish this by wishing away three months every year.
There will inevitably be tough days, but I’m working hard to keep a difficult moment or day in context. Through reflection, we learn from adversity and struggle and if we apply these lessons we can prevent a rough day from growing into a tough week, month, or quarter. There are fewer than 30 school days left for many of us. Let’s make each one count.