Teachers know what that means. Principals too. Most of the students can feel it. Just about everyone I know who makes education their world understands that March is one of the most stressful times of the year. Winter break far behind us, summer still miles away, the pressures of grades, graduation requirements, and the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” It’s the Act III of a Shakespearean story complete (at least this year in Oregon) with thunder and lightning. I’m just waiting for the three witches.
In the face of this, creative sorts push back creatively. Sure they still feel more tense than they will in May, but even so there are those who come up with ways to add levity and whimsy to the hardest month of the year.
In classrooms I’ve seen Rube Goldberg machines giving middle schoolers hands on experiences with physics; debates, some with costumes, providing students a chance to argue both sides of challenging issues; and a most delightful math teacher showing up in a kilt on exam day. Laughter and learning, together as they should be.
Outside the classroom, our seniors have just finished their capstone presentations, three weeks of reflections culminating in a day of performances and art that was jaw dropping, even by our high ACMA standards. The passion students brought to this work was as inspiring as it was diverse. Actors, artists, dancers, writers, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, and techs all showed off what matters most artistically to them. The results were awesome.
The staff has been pretty awesome too, coming up with creative ideas to help March act more like a lamb than a lion. A salsa tasting at a staff meeting and a chocolate tasting after a professional development day showed the spicy and sweet nature of the adults on campus. A couple of days later a teacher heading out on paternity leave brought in doughnuts for the staff, and just to show that we do try to boost morale in ways other than eating, we took a week in March and began every morning by playing ABBA over the PA rather than a first bell.
You should have seen the kids and adults singing along.
And while our 1950s era boiler has been going out lately, and while it literally snowed on Friday, we all know that the two most delicious words in education are waiting on the other side of the weekend: Spring Break.
Yeah, I capitalized it. Spring Break deserves that.
To use Shakespeare again, this time from All’s Well that Ends Well:
I have seen a medicine
That’s able to breathe life into a stone,
Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
With spritely fire and motion; whose simple touch
Is powerful to araise King Pipin, nay,
To give great Charlemain a pen in his hand
And write to her a love-line.”
Some of us need such medicine. Some of us need a love-line. Some of us just need a nap.
Spring break offers to be that medicine that might quicken a rock, and make us dance canary.
So, to all my friends in education, I wish you a great pause in this grand play of the school year. I wish you renewal, perspective, and rest. I wish you a marvelous Spring Break!