The Countdown to the Holiday Break & Its Larger Implications

Last week I shared that it broke my heart (again) hearing from one of my former students about their lackluster year and how it doesn’t have to be that way.

As the days leading up to our holiday break went on, another example of how upside down schools have things struck me again.

Here’s the truth. There are endless facebook posts from teachers across the country that in essence are counting down the days or articulating how they need to simply ‘make it’ until the break.

I have literally seen teachers cross paths in hallways with kids in earshot sarcastically saying the number of days aloud until the break and some even worse, until the last day of school.

I can recall emails from administrators that reinforce the ‘buckle down’ mentality so that behaviors don’t get out of control around ‘this time of year’ approach.

Perhaps the above is warranted, we all deserve breaks. But what is sad is that these are just a few instances that vividly repaint the mentality that exists in most schools daily. Kids are on edge. Teachers are at wits end. They both can’t wait to GET OUT. (And we’re not even at testing time yet.)

One of the MANY things that have been different for me this year at Indi-ED is when I’m met with the statements that are similar, “I bet you’re counting down the days until you’re off for the holiday break.” I simply smile, chuckle and respond, “Actually it’s not like that at all.”

I don’t in those moments have time to explain just how different the culture is at Indi-ED (feel free to click on any of our posts or talk to any of our students or families and I’m sure you’ll find more specific examples) but here are a few specifics from this week that may paint the picture for you.

One of our students DID NOT go on her family vacation because she wanted to spend her last two days at school with everyone. YOU READ THAT RIGHT! A student CHOSE SCHOOL over vacation!

Our teachers got there early EVERY day this week because it was happy, business as usual. Even better, we left feeling accomplished, energized, and supported. YOU READ THAT RIGHT! We KNOW that our families respect and value our efforts which creates an entirely different atmosphere for US!

Why the difference you may ask? We don’t have time for all of it in one post but I believe that it all boils down to relationships and feeling like you are a part of a team with a similar goal.

Our kids, families, and teachers CARE about one another & see the BIGGER PICTURE.

We show acts of kindness to one another. (Gifts from the older to younger cohort were given and vice versa.)

We show up and embrace each others’ differences. (We celebrated Christmas with gifts from teachers to students, families to teachers, students to families, and Hanukkah with a meal made by one of our families.)

Indi-ED Families, I thought you’d appreciate this last one. It’s the kids making a human wall so we could walk by without seeing our gifts. They took it very seriously and it was another lesson in collaboration. 😉

We know that there is more to educating and preparing our children for life than just buckling down on solely academics. (One of our parents arranged a volunteering opportunity for us at the Kind Mouse and the kids were on a mission!)

I’m not saying that gifts are necessary to create a positive culture or that focus should not be on academics.

What I am saying is that in order to create a positive learning environment that students, teachers, and families look forward to contributing to which makes academic progress come easily, we need to shift the focus and realize that we all play a role in positively supporting one another because this is real life for ALL of us.

A negative mindset and environment leads to little progress for all parties who are simply counting down until an end.

Thank you Indi-ED ‘villagers’ for caring, for seeing the bigger picture, and for making positive impacts on our kids and on each other.

I’m happy that we are are only counting down the days…until we see each other again. 🙂

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