There are notorious bad days in teaching that those of us in the biz come to expect, like the sugar crash after Halloween, and the day before Christmas vacation.
These are days when we know not to plan anything we really want our students to learn, as it will fall upon people who are quite distracted at that moment in time.
But nothing brings a classroom down like Spring. Which is a problem since it lasts for two months, not one day.
My seventh graders checked out sometime after the state tests which coincided with the rise of outside temperatures. Children who used to listen to my wisdom, contribute interesting and relevant comments to class discussions are now, well, downright silly. And I recently learned that this is not a phenomenon unique to Middle School, as I listened to reports from my preschooler's teacher.
So is it the warm touch of the sun shining down on students after months of winter that make it hard to concentrate in school?
The smell of the blooming flowers and trees?
But nature is fully responsible for this educational debacle. It's the birds and the bees. Romance is in the air. Young love explodes along with the cherry blossoms and forsythias in April and May, making our world colorful and our boys and girls drawn to one another with a force stronger than teachers threats of lunch detention or final exams.
As the classrooms heat up and make it almost unbearable to teach, pre-teen romances are heating up as well, also making it unbearable to teach. Words escape my mouth that sound nothing like the lesson I had planned, and my days are spent repeating any or all of the following phrases:
"Eve, stop playing footsie with Joey."
"Ryan please don't pat Katie on the head; she's not a dog."
"Brett, its not appropriate to give Rachel a back rub in class."
"You know, you do have a final in this class, it might be wise to pay attention."
"No you may not sit with Josh."
"Why not?" (voice rising with incredulity).
"Because last time you sat together I had to send you out of the room for excessive giggling."
Even words relevant to History and not at all funny will bring the class down. We recently began a unit on the causes of the Civil War. I spent an entire lesson on sectionalism (the differences between the south and the north) and every time I uttered the word sectionalism I was met with snickers and giggles. (Say it aloud if you are wondering).
One of my female students even came up in the middle of class to ask me if I knew why the boys were laughing.
"Of course I know!" I was exasperated. "I am trying to be the adult and ignore them. Perhaps you should do the same."
It's not much better on the other side of the educational continuum from what I understand. The rumor in my son's preschool class was that Zoe kissed Daniel on the lips! Now all the girls are trying to kiss and marry the boys.
My son's teachers corroborated the five-year-old reports. Apparently there has been a lot of kissing on the lips going on, so the teachers passed a "no kissing on the lips rule," which was shortly followed by a "no marriage law," as more and more of the kids were trying to seal the deal. I guess they thought if they were married they could bypass the kissing law.
One of his teachers told me they are still trying to circumvent the rules. At indoor recess she noticed a group of them standing suspiciously in the corner of the social hall. When she approached to see what was going on, the lot of them ducked under a table to continue their business, which was presumably kissing.
I think they have it right in the southern states. Start school in August and end in May. We may swelter in those last dog days of summer, but the kids will be too hot to flirt, and possibly too warm to move. Therefore, teachers will have a captive audience. Things will be sizzling in the classroom for sure, but in a very different way.