Welcome to October… the end October specifically.
I have read/viewed/pinned/received texts about the inevitable autumn slump that we teachers go through year after year. This is my first October teaching in a year round school and I must say that the slump came… WITH A VENGEANCE, and then I got a three week break.
Can you hear the angels singing?
Seriously though, since I teach track three, my scheduled breaks aren’t between quarters so we finished quarter one on a Friday and began quarter two the next Monday which was extremely stressful. Report cards went home the very last day of the quarter as opposed to a few days later on the traditional calendar. While on the traditional calendar I would also typically get a teacher work day to complete my report cards, but everything about year round track three is different. While my experience (still quite short) with my year round schedule has been quite amazing, I thought I would generate a list of the differences and reflect on those a bit.
Pro: Students start the new grade a week after they end the previous grade so they are still in the swing of school. They remember how to label papers and walk down the halls and how to act in the cafeteria. Personal teacher specific routines still require some teaching, but those hours and days spent on school wide routines and expectations don’t take as much time.
Con: Students have only had 4-5 days between grades. New third graders are still, literally, second graders in their minds… and those first couple of days where the kids are still quiet because its the first days of school and they want to be extra good are non-existent because they’ve been in school the whole time. They don’t have the break between grades to transition in their minds to the next year.
Pro: Students were in my class for three weeks and then got a three week break. Those three weeks were just enough time to finish my BOY assessments, the BOG, and gave me enough time to learn who doesn’t need to sit where. Then we got a break and I got to plan my reading groups, centers, and mini lessons without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Those first few weeks that we got back after the first break were the most prepared weeks ever in my career.
Con: Those personal teacher specific routines I mentioned before really become routine and then students left for three weeks. I got lucky this year and when we came back everything went smoothly… However I’m not sure if that’s always the case.
Pro: We track back in at the end of August and go to school through September and half of October. Quarter one wraps up during that time and Quarter two begins. Again, there’s no transition time and everything continues smoothly. It was enough time for me to get through two chapter books in my lit circles. Also, my students are on vacation during the fair AND during Halloween so we didn’t have those distractions (or sugar mood swings!).
Con: Because we worked right through the end of Quarter one straight into Quarter two I had to complete report cards and parent conferences after school with no preparatory teacher workday. I also didn’t get to see any cute Halloween costumes and I didn’t get to do my somewhat traditional Charlotte’s Web read aloud during the fair. It’ll still happen, the timing will just be different.
BEST PRO EVER: My last day with my students before track out was October 17th. The fall time slump was greeted with VACATION! It was definitely there but I had the will power to plow through it because I knew I would have time to recharge. I’m a week into my break and I feel excited to go back to work. The first week was just pure brain dead vacation, next week will be the time I spend pinning, planning, and creating, and then the third week I will be itching to go back to school so I’ll work in my room rearranging, putting together bulletin boards and so on. I do plan on redoing/rethinking my literacy small groups. I’ll post on that later!
Overall I think purely for teacher sanity and to combat burnout the year round schedule is the way to go, and that’s just from my perspective as a teacher. Imagine how glorious it is for the students and their parents. I am so happy with my new school and the schedule that came with it!
Thanks for reading my reflections. If you don’t teach at a year round school, or if you do and you’re on a different track, how do you combat the October blues? Is there something that gets you through the slump? Thanksgiving is in 32 days!