The end of the year, finally, for teachers. I remember those days when the older kids were counting the days til the end of school. It always amused me that when school ended, my own children would then “play school” with their friends. School can’t be that bad a place if it becomes part of the play.
When I taught at the small private school in Florida, we had no playground teachers. We were told to take turns at recess and lunch time. It made more sense for us to all take the break together. We would sit on the concrete benches on the play ground , watch the kids, and enjoy each others company.
There was another event that came at this school. It was labeled the IQ program. The letters stood for Interim Quest, but, in fact, it did not happen in the middle of the school year but at the end. IQ sounded pretty good. When the idea was proposed, it did not get rave reviews from the lower school staff. We could see it meant a lot of work. But in the end, we all loved it. It was a lot of work, but I recommend it for everyone.
IQ happened during the last three weeks of school; all regular work was done, text books were put away, and exams were finished. Each lower school teacher chose a subject to concentrate on with her class. The first year I chose a “Trip Around the World”. We had speakers come in and talk and show slides of their travels. We had a folk dance group come in and teach us dances from other countries. One of the big hits was a Mom with bag pipes who gave a demonstration of the instrument. I did not know that bag pipes needed to be warmed up so the Mom arrived early and was parading up and down the drive between our school building and the church. She was in full costume and attracted quite a bit of attention from the kids in the other classes, the middle school kids who met in the church, and neighbors. By the time she was warmed up enough to share her music with us, we had to amend our plans so the whole lower school could be outside to enjoy it.
This was quite a disruption to a first grade class studying space, a second grade involved with dinosaurs, a fourth grade studying local history and the kindergarten taking a tour through many artists and their painting styles. But it was quite wonderful, though LOUD.
The IQ program was a lot of work. The first grade was converted into a space lab and you needed identity to enter the lab. The second grade was decorated with all manner of dinosaurs and the class could even spell most of those big names and tell you more than you wanted to know about them. That the kindergartens were doing artist studies surprised me but when I taught first grade at that school for three years, I would hear my students talking about various artists and words like “pointelism” . It was amazing.
The middle school kids were put into multi-age groups and took on studies involved in the environment, each teacher taking an area they could look into in-depth. I am not sure if the groups had one teacher during that time or moved from teacher to teacher.
The high school always had a tour someplace, and this was the timing for their tour, a trip to England as an example. Those not going on the trip were given a chance to intern at a local business often with school parents providing a site. Some stayed at the school and researched a subject they wanted to look into in more depth.
It was a wonderful way to end the school year… and yes, it was a lot of work. It meant redecorating the room, putting away class room texts, rearranging desks to make it a different place, let alone seeking materials and visiting lecturers for the study.
One year I took on physics for my third graders. I am not sure what we did, time fades my memory but we did a lot of work with batteries and made circuits and lighted up bulbs…magic. We also had the annual paper boat race. I set up a long tub of water in the room with a fan blowing across the water and a watch to time the races. The kids were supposed to be dreaming up boat shapes at home that would float across the water the fastest. I am not sure how much planning they put into it but we held the race on the last day. The rule was… one piece of paper, not more than two paper clips and a designated amount of tape. One year the kids crayoned the back of the paper to give it a water-resistant quality. One year Chris brought in a small motorized boat. We had to have two race categories, plain paper… and anything goes. The crayons did help. The motorized boat sunk the minute it was put in the water with Chris standing there, looking sad and saying only “oh”. One year I submitted my boat.. which was a piece of paper gently crunched… it won but was disqualified because it wasn’t a “boat.”
Then there was the year Jeff forgot to make a boat. I send him in at recess to make one. Apparently he wanted to see which were the best, so he took each boat off a desk and placed it in the water. Soon all the boats had become drenched and soggy. When we came inside after recess there was a lot of grumbling kids. Jeff was sent to the principal. The class all set to work making new boats. I understood his intentions but…..
Years later I learned that at his graduation speech he said “All I needed to know, I learned in third grade.” He then told the story of the boats. The lesson “Don’t mess with other people’s stuff.”