Lien on Me: Non Closure

August 4, 2020

At the end of the school year, I would tweet, “June is like a Friday; July is like a Saturday; and August is like a Sunday.” My coach, Jackie Drummer, shared that adage with me many years ago and every time I passed it on, teachers would nod their heads in thoughtful agreement. It characterized our summers.

In June, we celebrate the completion of a school year and begin to decompress. Like Fridays, we are exhausted, but we are gratified. In July, our conditioned response to the school bell diminishes. Like Saturdays, the clock doesn’t control when we eat lunch or use the bathroom. In August, our reflexes begin to lurch into the demands of a new school year. Like Sundays, there is never enough time to accomplish what we expected to do over the weekend.

This was the first time I didn’t Tweet this adage. After this past school year, there wasn’t a traditional closure or our typical celebrations. In fact, it feels like the school year is still in progress. Non-closure to a school year has likely never happened to most teachers. It’s an important passage to our reflective practice. July was when teachers could be consciously retrospective and actively introspective, thinking about our purposes and how we were serving all students.

As Charlotte Danielson has said, “Teaching is a thinking person’s job.” During the school year, we focus intensely on our students and examine how our teaching has impacted their learning. Our job places all of our energy on the current school year and too often, our decisions have to be reactive, especially during a lesson.

It’s important to be able to reflect on teaching without the conditions we are harnessed to during the school year. Purposeful metacognition allows teachers to learn, plan, and assess our understanding and performance of teaching and learning. 

On page 73 of Charlotte Danielson’s book, “Talk About Teaching,” she writes that we should be “encouraging metacognition.” Administrators and coaches can be preemptive in recognizing that teachers did not have the opportunity to rebuild their resilience or renovate their teaching potency. Therefore, support needs to be highly concentrated on metacognitive methods, otherwise teachers will be susceptible to strains of lethargy and doubt. Reflective practices produce deeper levels of self-efficacy, and teachers will need us to champion their efforts in what will undoubtedly be an unpredictable school year.

Teresa Lien
Twitter: @5liens