May strikes both elation and fear in the hearts of educators and parents of students everywhere.
The countdown to the last day of school has begun. Parties and field trips are being planned. Marking the milestones of learning progress--look how far they've come since August! The ultimate celebration of graduating from high schools and colleges.
These are big moments to celebrate, but before we get there, we encounter hurdles: standardized testing, advanced placement exams, portfolio completions. Grades to enter, transcripts to finalize, deadline after deadline to meet. As a librarian, I have summer reading and internet safety lessons, inventory and annual reports to complete, my self-evaluation, weeding, and the last minute hunt for missing books before students and staff leave. While teachers are busy marching toward summer, parents are busy planning out summers to maximize family time and facilitate major transitions. The fear of failure and missed deadlines looms large this month.
And let's not forget the fears of the students. In my former life as a special education teacher, I had to prepare my students for a summer without structure. For some, school was the safest place they knew; the break from campus was also a break from regular meals, caring touch, positive reinforcement and appropriate consequences for behavioral mistakes.
Soon-to-be graduates of all levels harbor fears for their futures: transitioning to new schools (oh, that leap to middle school!), the quasi-independence of college, the post-grad job hunt. For high school seniors in particular, there's the push-pull of the need for independence battling with the realization of just how much support they've gotten from parents. I see this in my own son on a daily basis; one minute it's "I can't wait to be gone", the next it's "College is scary."
I'm not sure what weighs more this month, the celebration or the anxiety. My goal is to focus on the joy as much as possible...and pay close attention to the calendar.