It’s that time of the year. It’s the end of the school year. As of this moment, there are 19 days remaining in the school year, that is if I count school days only. Sandwiched in between those final four weeks are three weekends and one of them is a three-day weekend. The kids know it, the teachers know it, there is no good way to hide it. So, I don’t try to hide the fact that the days are slipping away towards summer break.
Right now, it’s the middle of spring. The flowers and trees are blooming and today is a beautiful sunny spring afternoon. The sky is so blue, I can almost taste it. Last night, we had a frost warning, but I didn’t see any frost on the yard or on the rooftops when I looked out across the yard this morning. It was cool, but evidently, not cold enough.
But warmer days will soon be here, then summer, summer break, and before I realize it, I’ll be back in school again. It’s a cycle, the always repeating cycle of life and the seasons.
A couple of weeks ago I got the email below from a student.
Hi Mr. Watkins, I am getting worried about my grades. Every year my grades start slipping in the 4th quarter and this year I was going to stop it before it gets too bad. I was hoping that you had some extra work for me to do to get my grade up.
Thanks , Your student
I get emails like that all the time, they usually arrive towards then end of the marking period, that’s why this one was unusual. It arrived three weeks into the term.
I did not reply to the e-mail, choosing instead to speak with the student personally (and privately). The conversation sounded something like this.
Me: “Hi, I got your e-mail. Can we talk?”
Student: “Yeah, sure.”
The student got up from his desk and joined me near my desk sitting on a stool I reserve for one on one conferences.
Me: “You know I was wondering why you needed extra work?”
Student: “I was looking at my grade and it’s not very good.”
Me: “Well, why is that?”
Student: “I have missed a couple of assignments and I didn’t do so well on the quiz.”
Me: “Did you know, if you had turned those assignments in, your grade would be a high B or a low A?”
Student: “Yeah, I know, it’s just that I have a hard time at the end of the year focusing and getting my work done on time.”
Me: “I can see that, and there was an extra credit assignment I offered over spring break and I didn’t get a submission from you.”
Student: “Oh yeah, I forgot about that and when I remembered the assignment, it was too late.”
Me: “Well, there is a lot of time left in the term, you can pull yourself out, but you’ll have to work. I mean turn all of your work in on time.”
Student: “Yeah, I know, but is there anything I can do to help my grade, now?”
Me: “Of course there is, you start doing all of your work on time. Oh, and have you ever heard of Leon Lett?”
Student: “Leon who?”
Me: “Leon Lett.”
Student: “No, why, who is Leon Lett?”
Me: “Let me show you….”
And I opened up a Google search page and typed ‘Leon Lett.’ I got the search result I expected and showed him the video below.
After the video finished playing, I asked him.
Me: “What does Leon Lett have to do with you?”
Because, I know he was wondering.
Student: “Well, I don’t play sports, but I think if Leon hadn’t slowed down, he would’ve scored a touchdown.”
Student: “Well, I think your trying to tell me I should continue doing my work and handing it on time and I’ll finish the year with a good grade.”
Me: “What else?”
Student: “I am not really sure… maybe finish what I started?”
Me: “Yes, I think if you don’t slow down and celebrate, you’ll do well. But you have to Finish Strong”
Student: “Okay, I can do that.”
Me: “I know you can and I expect you to work up to your potential. You can do it.”
And that ended the conversation.
The next day, I shared the same video with my colleagues and we shared the identical message with all of our 8th graders – all 85 of them. We put it an easy way for them to remember.
25 days, 25 ways, to #FinishSTRONG
It was like summer already, some listened, some didn’t. But that’s okay, the students who were ready to hear the message, did. Now we are down to nineteen days, or four weeks, then summer. All we have to do is finish strong. Me, them, all of us.
So since then, I finish my classes with 19 days, 19 ways, to #FinishSTRONG.
Today is gonna be a great day, I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. And, in a lot of ways, it already is a great day. I should take my advice and #FinishSTRONG. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one history lesson, one science lesson, and one life lesson at a time. Oh, and 19 days, 19 ways, to #FinishSTRONG.
Do you remember an important ‘life lesson’ from school? Please share, thank you.