Almost two decades have passed since I read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. As I considered the end of the year traditional classroom routine this evening, the reading came to mind. As I Lay Dying is more complex and involved than I will explain…a woman is dying, and her son builds her coffin outside her window. The title, self-explanatory, captures the story’s start. As I considered what happens on the last few days of school, I could not help but recall the title of Faulkner’s story I read long ago.
I hated the son for building a coffin outside his mother’s window. I recall classmates not being as disgusted, but thinking the son smart to be prepared. Packing up a classroom while students are still in an educator’s care disgusts me just as the son’s misplaced focus. Many colleagues thought it smart to be prepared-putting a room together takes time just as prepping a room for summer break takes time. It is tedious. Designing the room is more enjoyable than packing and putting away. I am certain I solicited help from students the year I returned from maternity leave for one day of teaching. I am sure I had students help-I am not about to excuse myself. I cringe thinking I could have placed more value on prepping for “the end” than I did valuing “the now”. And that is what made me think of Faulkner.
When a primary complaint is lack of time, it seems like a waste to spend the last days cleaning a room, tearing down wall hangings, and putting books in their place when students are waiting for our facilitation and inspiration. So what can happen during the last few days?
- Write sidewalk chalk poems
- Give the gift of learning
- Read the news, have students make content and concept connections, discuss
- Reflect and capture the reflection
- Send an email to future self using futureme.org
- Design. Build. Experiment.
- Crowdsource ideas/resources for next year’s group collected by this year’s group
- Read music lyrics, have students make content and concept connections, discuss
- Work on e-portfolios
- Skype and/or GHO with another class
- Check out Connecting Creativity for more ideas