Limping Across the Finish Line

This great blog post from Jen Hatmaker has made me laugh for a few years now. Jen talks about how a parent feels at the beginning of the school year through the end of the year. She describes “limping, limping across the finish line.” I remember that feeling all too well….as a mom and a teacher. As a mom, the homework folders, lunches, notes and forms just got to be too much. I found myself blindly signing whatever was placed in front of me at the breakfast table. My daughter, tired of the signing ritual, learned to forge my signature by age 8. I secretly thought, “That’s good. Now I only have to worry about the other kid.” As a teacher, the homework folders (including the dreaded reading logs) were the bane of my existence. I knew what the parents were doing by the end of the year. Just like me, they had at least one kid who could forge their signature – or were blindly signing – or were lying so they wouldn’t look bad in the eyes of the teacher. I even had some parents who would sign the reading logs in advance. I have to say I admired their moxy.

The problem for parents and teachers alike is that we are taking responsibility for the child’s learning. If we are going to help our kids become independent learners, we need to find ways to get them to hold themselves accountable as early as possible. We need to connect the work with the learning. If they don’t see the connection, perhaps what we are asking them to do is not so important after all. As we limp, limp across the finish line of the school year, let’s reflect on what was asked of students this year. Did all of the assigned tasks truly move students toward learning goals? Did our rituals and routines promote independent learning? Were we holding kids accountable with carrots and sticks – or did we encourage them to hold themselves accountable?

After you cross the end-of-the-year finish line, take some time to breathe and enjoy the lazier days of summer. Then think about what we can do differently next year so we won’t be limping across the finish line again. #classhopperapp #schoolyear

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