In a scene in the movie About Schmidt the character played by Jack Nicholson is staring at his clock in his office. He is waiting for it to hit 5. His bags are packed. When he walks out of the door, he has reached retirement. This mini-drama is played out numerous times a day at school when students (and teachers) find themselves staring at the clock waiting for a bell to ring.
Many students, and teachers, here in May are waiting out the clock for their summer, or their supposed glorious future of freedom to begin. A sports analogy works here too. Students and teachers are standing with a ball in their hands, but they aren’t moving or passing or trying to score. They stare up at the scoreboard and wait for the buzzer.
Whatever. The last month(s) of school have a distinct feel. Exhaustion. Light to heavy despair. Regret. Hope. A renewed feeling of “maybe next year.” Questions about who will be back, and who is trying to jump ship. Questions regarding the ship and the rumors of icebergs ahead. Questions about the purpose of education. Meditations on what works and doesn’t, and who we all are, or should be.
I appreciate May in school because it’s a season that passes. Sometimes it’s like a kidney stone or a difficult childbirth, but even those are temporary. May is a reminder of where we’ve been, where we didn’t go, and where some are headed. It’s the buildup for the bittersweet joy of early June, and the end of another school year.
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