Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I Don't Do Countdowns

"Five more days!"
"This is the last Tuesday until break!"
"Remember, only three days left!"
"One more wake up!"

I don't do countdowns.
In fact, I can't stand them.
I can't believe I used to join in countdowns with my students.. or worse yet - LEAD them.

Don't get me wrong - At times, I countdown - IN MY HEAD. I do not celebrate countdowns in front of students. If I'm having a particularly tough week, I may get excited that Friday is coming. I also get excited when there's a great professional development in sight (see the countdown calendar to the right of this blog). However, you won't find me making a calendar, crossing off dates, taking numbers down, or saying anything to students about the end of a school week, quarter, or year.

What's wrong with a little "celebration?"
     Some students actually look forward to school. YES. Hooray for them!
     Some students would rather be at school than at home, for various reasons.
     I'd like students to think that I actually LIKE being there with them. (Of course - I DO!)

I'm tired of countdowns that signal the end of a school week.

That being said, there are nine more days until I get to see my students once more!

I am excited to come back to school refreshed, and ready to make our days COUNT.


  1. I totally understand that what I am about to write is very different than what you are referring to in your post...

    I do count downs. In a class that is enjoyable, count downs point out how precious every day really is :) We celebrate not how many days until we leave, but how important the days we have left together should be.

    On the first day of school there are 182 quartz stones on my whiteboard ledge. Each day I take one away. It is probably 4-5 months before anyone realizes what is happening. Then slowly it ripples through the team. At about two months left kids will start asking to remove the stone each day. Not out of excitement that the day is over, but for the privilege of being able to touch a symbol representing one of our days together. At the end of the year kids will always come back and ask to take a stone home. Like everything in a classroom, it's not what you do, but how it is done :)

    1. Ah, I like that they are quartz stones - makes me think of "The Time You Have in Jelly Beans" video. Instead of taking away, we have something similar - we add to a jar our precious moments. I saw something floating around Twitter in December, and implemented a "precious moments" jar for each class. We add small slips of paper telling what we enjoyed or what we did well or sweet unexpected things that happened each day. We'll read these on one of our last days together.

      I like your last line - it's not what you do, but how it is done. Thank you for sharing your idea, Paul!

  2. I need to add a tweet I saw from Jeremy Hyler today - "Remember, there are students who are anxious this time of year because they don't want school to end. They would rather be at school than at home."