I had forgotten how awful May was until I saw it last week on the faces of my colleagues. There were a pair of teachers sitting around the staff room last Wednesday, staring off into space, waiting for our meeting to begin. They wondered what was going to happen next. The standardized testing was finished, and there was still a month left of school.
"What do we do now?" They asked me.
I stopped, considered, and drew on my almost-a-decade of experience in the classroom: "We play out the string." I knew exactly why they were perplexed. I knew why they were depressed. We have all been at this education thing for nine months, we had just taken our "finals," and we were still looking at more than a month left. If the kids didn't get it yet, how could we save them before the middle of June?
The kids, on the other hand, have a solid sense of completion. They may not vocalize it, but they know the year is over. Some of the scariest behavior on the playground can be seen in the month of May. The stress that builds in the school as a whole during standardized testing peaks as they finish filling in their last bubble. For the first time this year, I have students asking me, "Mister Caven, will I pass fourth grade?"
Truth is, most of mine will be moving on. A month from now. One long, value-added, crisis-riddled, hypertensive month. Then I'll be back for summer school. For now, let's take out our books and review: April may be the cruelest month, but May isn't exactly a garden party either.