being a teacher, choices, homework

Give ‘Em a Break

I used to be that teacher that thought breaks meant more time to do work.  I used to be that teacher that thought that vacation meant the students would forget everything unless I assigned them work to do. I used to be that teacher that thought school was the most important thing in a child’s life and I therefore had the right to all of their free time, as much as I needed, to make sure that they were always learning.  Then I had a child and as I see the world through her eyes I see the constant learning.  I see the exploration.  I see the boundless curiosity.  And I am ashamed of my past decisions.

Vacations and breaks are not for school, otherwise students would not get them.  They are for living, for being with family, for recharging and letting the world sink in.  They are for going outside, for reading for fun, for exploring whatever one chooses.  School is not the most important thing in life; living is.  So I give my students a break over the break.  Read a book if you want, blog if you want, sleep in, have fun, and relax.  When you get back we have much to do but until then you deserve the rest.

So give your students a break.

6 thoughts on “Give ‘Em a Break”

  1. When I taught in a regular classroom I would have parents ask me for work for their child while they were on vacation. They were always surprised (mostly pleasantly I hope) when I told them they could make anything up that was vital when they got back to school. They would learn more from their vacation than the class would over that time period. When parents insisted I would have the child write a journal or diary of what they did each day. This seemed to satisfy the parents and it was a great way for the kids to have a memory of the trip. A win/win in my opinion.Looking back on this I suppose this may have been the beginning of my change in belief about the value of what we teach in school. Had I been convinced that what I was covering was so absolutely important that the child could not miss one of the lessons while gone or they would be irreparably harmed then I would have demanded they do the work, obviously this wasn't the case. Experiencing new places, meeting new people, traveling, and hopefully eating different foods are all so very valuable to myself, so much so that I cannot imagine anything the child could be learning at school being more important.

  2. Will, that is exactly my point. Nothing is so important that a child cannot catch up with it if they are on vacation. And nothing is so important that students should be trying to learn it themselves when school is not in session. Kids learn all the time, we just have to realize that.

  3. My school mandated no major assignments due on the first or second day after break (A/B block). I'm not sure for what reason, since it was decided while I was on leave, but I'm glad! The kids in our program are in a state of constant over-work!

  4. Great thoughts! I remember when I was teaching Reading Recovery and we were all worried that our students would forget everything over the break, my teacher leader's reply was, "If the child forgets over a 2 week break, he never had control of that skill in the first place." It really changed the way I thought about things. I hope YOU enjoy your break as well! I do look forward to your return so I can read about all of the neat things your class is doing/learning!

  5. I too have parents ask me for extra work over breaks etc. I will tell them to do stuff WITH their kids that's relevant to them being productive. Have them double recipes on cookies (fractions!) and give to their local fire station. Have them read to their younger siblings. They need to be able to make change in their head so pay cash for stuff and double check their math. But most of all spend time doing real world things. The internet and workbooks are great but has taken much interaction with parents out of the equation. Most of all spend time with your children and have fun.!

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