Counting Down, The Unintended Message


I don’t want summer to come. I don’t want school to end. I love it there,” were her words.
— "Every Day... She Ran To You" by Tom Murray

It’s special when three of your favorite people on the planet have shared messages that support each other so beautifully. Tom Murray (@ThomasCMurray) recently shared his heartfelt blog post, “Every Day… She Ran to You” that was a personal and heartfelt thank you to his daughter’s teachers at the end of her first year in kindergarten.

Last night, tears began to stream from our little girl as she laid with us before bedtime. As every parent understands, our heart sunk in asking what was wrong.

“I don’t want summer to come. I don’t want school to end. I love it there,” were her words.
— Every Day She Ran To You

As we’re looking at the start of the final quarter of our school year, I was prompted by an overheard comment about “counting the days to the end of this school year” to return to blogging to share this one message from “Stop. Right. Now. The 39 Stops to Making Better Schools” authored by Jimmy Casas (@casasjimmy) and Jeff Zoul (@Jeff_Zoul).

Please, stop Counting Down.

It has become somewhat a ubiquitous tradition in our schools to count down the days to last day of school and the first day of summer. Jimmy and Jeff wrote about how wonderfully passionate, committed educators have inadvertently and innocently sent out the contradictory message about school when celebrating the end of the school year (and Mondays, Fridays, Snow Days, Holidays).

I truly appreciate and know first hand how much educators put into their profession throughout the year, and there are few who give so much of their time and themselves than teachers and school administrators. There is the basic human need to celebrate the accomplishments achieved at milestones such as the end of a school year when both students and educators have grown during the previous ten months.

Nevertheless I ask you to consider what the unintended message might be from a student’s and parent’s perspective.

  • Some of our families rely on the meals available through the school meal program to feed their children — they may view the end of the school year with worries rather than anticipation.

  • After a year of being encouraged to develop a supportive relationship with their teacher or other adults on campus — they may misinterpret your joy as a rejection, a message that perhaps “you didn’t really care” and that it was just a part of your job to behave as though you did care.

  • Parents of your students who struggled through the curriculum and who benefited from your support throughout the year — may now be worried about retention, graduation, or whether their teacher and team next year will be as wonderful.

In the end, educators do need time for self-care and rejuvenation that a weekend, a holiday, and the winter/spring/summer breaks bring. They absolutely do work extremely hard and generously give of themselves daily.

What is asked of us as we approach the end of this school year is that we thoughtfully keep our message consistent with our philosophy.

Celebrate and Reflect — Relationships, Growth & Achievements, Passion & Purpose

I’m closing with this quote from Tom Murray’s blog post that began my own post because it so beautifully conveys the thanks and appreciation from many of your parents that while they may or may not express directly to you, is nevertheless in their hearts. To educators everywhere on behalf of the parents of your students — Thank you! There are no words that will adequately let you know how much we appreciate you and what you do.

Over the course of this year, we’ve watched you work tirelessly, for every student, and day after day put kids at the heart of your decision making. But, it’s not just that which you’ve done.

You’ve made them feel safe.
You’ve made them feel secure.
You’ve made them know that they matter.
You’ve made them feel smart.
You’ve made them feel that they can do anything they set their mind to.
You’ve made them feel loved.
— Tom Murray

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