Summer Countdown: and why to stop doing it

As a special education teacher, I used to eagerly await the arrival of summer vacation like many other educators. However, over time, I came to realize that constantly counting down the days until the break was doing more harm than good. In this blog post, I want to share my insights on why I stopped counting down to summer vacation. From the impact on students’ perceptions of school to the changes in my own perspective, let’s dive in.

SCHOOL AS A SAFE PLACE

One of the reasons I stopped counting down to summer vacation was the realization that school serves as a safe haven for many students. For some, it’s the place where they find structure, stability, and supportive relationships. By constantly emphasizing the approaching break, I unintentionally conveyed the message that school is not a fun or enjoyable place to be. I started to question how this affected students’ perceptions of their educational journey.

For many students, school is the only place they know they have a consistent and set meal coming from.  They know they are safe physically and emotionally.  When there is a summer countdown, it is a daily reminder that all of that structure and safety will soon be gone.

THE FUN FACTOR

Counting down to summer vacation sends the message that school is merely a means to an end, diminishing the importance of learning and intellectual growth. When school is primarily seen as a hurdle to overcome, it becomes difficult to inspire students and ignite their curiosity. As special education teachers, we understand the significance of creating engaging and enjoyable learning experiences. By shifting the focus away from a countdown, we can foster a love for learning that extends beyond the confines of the classroom.

We know motivation is lacking in students lately, and even though this countdown is just for the end  of the year- it can continue this mindset that school is just something to overcome for years to come.

BEHAVIORAL CHALLENGES

As the countdown to summer vacation intensifies, it’s common to witness an increase in behavioral challenges among students. The anticipation of a break can lead to restlessness, distraction, and even disruptive behavior. By recognizing the correlation between counting down and amplified behaviors, we can develop strategies to maintain a positive classroom environment throughout the school year. This includes redirecting energy towards meaningful learning experiences and helping students find joy and fulfillment in the present moment.

These behaviors can be coming from a place of anxiety of school being over or even excitement.  Some students get so excited they struggle to control their bodies and emotions- leading to more difficult times in the classroom.

It is NEVER too late in the year to start a positive reward system.  Sometimes students need just that extra motivation at the end of the year.  Check an easy one to get and use here

A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE

Counting down to summer vacation inadvertently caused me to view each day solely as a stepping stone towards the break. I started to neglect the value of the journey itself, focusing more on reaching the destination. This shift in perspective not only impacted my own enjoyment as a teacher but also affected how I approached lesson planning, student interactions, and professional growth. By letting go of the countdown mentality, I was able to reframe my mindset and rediscover the beauty of every day in the classroom.

And this is HARD after a challenging year, but constantly looking to the future can cause undue anxiety without even realizing it for you! Protect your peace and try to find something to look forward to everyday (even if it is small).

In conclusion, as a special education teacher, I realized the detrimental effects of constantly counting down to summer vacation. By doing so, I unintentionally undermined the importance of school, hindered students’ perception of learning, witnessed an increase in behavioral challenges, and changed how I viewed each day as an educator. Instead, I encourage fellow teachers to embrace a different perspective—one that fosters a love for learning, values the journey, and cherishes the unique opportunities that each day presents.

By shifting our focus to creating engaging learning experiences, nurturing positive classroom environments, and celebrating the present moment, we can empower our students to see school as more than just a countdown to the next break. Let’s inspire a lifelong love of learning that extends beyond the confines of the academic year.

Remember, while summer vacation may be eagerly anticipated, let’s not forget the power we have as educators to make each day in the classroom truly meaningful and impactful for our students.

So, let’s stop counting down and start embracing the incredible journey of teaching special education!

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