Last Day of School | Mark’s Remarks

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Nobody knows what it’s like to be teacher, especially at the end of the year.  I have had well-educated, upstanding folks tell me what an easy job teaching is. I’d like for these people to come to a large gathering of teachers and say that. Them’s fightin’ words.

I was talking to some students this weekend, and many of them discussed the end of the year and semester exams. Some of them see right through the tactics we teachers use at the end of the year. “I think the teachers are just trying to keep us busy,” said one student. I asked if I could quote him.

Indeed, there’s a line that is crossed at the end of the school year. It is the line when students know we can no longer hold much over their heads.

Exams are given, books are turned in.  Often times, there is nothing left to do but misbehave.

I don’t know about you teachers out there, but I relate to the kids. The weather warms up, we open our windows and the smell of fresh cut grass and the great outdoors wafts through the house. It makes me want to stay up late. It makes me want to sleep a little later and not care as much about my appearance. It makes me want to slow down a little. I also think it makes me want to get into a little mischief. So, you see, I relate to the kids too.

I have been so blessed over the years to be colleagues with some wise folks. One older teacher who is long retired once presented this idea while we were all huddled in the air-conditioned teacher’s lounge. I say air-conditioned because back then, it was the only room besides the office that had AC.

We were all sitting around, moaning and groaning about how wild the kids are at the end of the year. We were exchanging ideas on how to keep them busy. At that point in the year, I’m pretty sure I was not shaving on a regular basis. I told you, I start to care less about my appearance as summer approaches.

Anyway, the wise teacher told us she had a great idea: don’t tell anyone when the last day of school is. Announce it at the last minute, sort of like a snow day. Then, around 2 p.m. one afternoon, tell the students “Have a great summer. This is your last day of school.”

Oh sure, you would have to figure out a way to do all the tying-up-of-loose-ends we do at the end of the year. Books would need to be turned in and cleaning would have to be done.  Perhaps exams could be given earlier.  I don’t know if it would actually work, but it certainly sounds good.

I presented the idea to my fifth graders the other day and explained to them the reasons behind it. They were not as enthusiastic about it, but they agreed it might be worth a try.  As we talked, many of them admitted to getting a little crazy at the end of the year. I even told them that I understood their craziness. This earned me a few nods of respect.

So, I sit and think about the idea actually working. What would it be like? My grades would already be turned in.  The classroom would be packed up and clean. My students would be working on historical (or hysterical) online scavenger hunts, reading classroom novels, writing letters to next year’s fifth graders. I would somehow, inconspicuously get everything handed in. Then, we’d gather in the classroom before dismissal.  I’d make the announcement.  This is the last day of school.

There would be hollering and loud noise. There would be the possibility of a stampede, and we teachers would somehow dismiss in a semi-orderly fashion. Kids would leave.  Some would say goodbye and linger behind. Some would get while the gettin’s good.

Oh well.  I can dream, can’t I?

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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