It’s that time of the year again. The time of year when many teachers start packing it up for the semester. We all know what this looks like: All of the important tests were probably already given last week, and nobody wants to create more grading for themselves unnecessarily. So, you get a couple of days or maybe even a whole week of fluff.
At best, this means a bunch of unrelated review or busy work that students aren’t invested in because they know you aren’t going to grade it. At worse, it is a weeklong party with no content at all.
I am not these teachers. I teach actual necessary content even as we are winding down toward break. I also find it annoying that everyone else doesn’t because all week when students come to my class, they are going to remind me that “none of their other teachers” are making them do work. That statement is obviously an exaggeration, but there is enough truth in it that it requires an explanation from me: Again, I have to give students an explanation about why I am actually teaching them in class … Does that sound right?
For me, the “break before the break” has never made much sense.
First of all, I have too much content as it is. There are already areas that I don’t get to during the year. Wasting a week and a half doesn’t seem like a good use of time.
Second, I never want students to feel like something that we are doing is not worth their attention. It is a slippery slope between “this assignment isn’t important” and “this class isn’t important.”
Third, it is a waste of time. If all we are going to do in the days leading up to a break is play games and have pizza parties, then just cancel school for those days, too. I can guarantee that both teachers and students would prefer to have more days off than “fun days” at school. The weeklong winter break wind-down is in the best interest of nobody.
I’m not naive. I know there are practical reasons for people doing this. If you are going to do fun things at school, it does make the most sense to put them right before a break. Additionally, students may be working their way toward a reward. Also, perhaps some schools actually would simply start break earlier if not for a set amount of days they were required to have. Many students are not going to come the last couple of days before a break anyway which makes even someone like me adjust their content schedule. So I am not against all practical reasons for celebrating or having in-school fun before breaks. I am against turning the school into the North Pole as soon as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” soars back to the top of the charts again.
There is a happy medium between the two extremes. Schools need to embrace it.