When you look at schools that outperform their peers, one of the telling differences is the urgency of May instruction.  Sadly, most schools in the month of May start to ease up and coast to the finish.  Those who don’t begin to separate themselves from the pack.  It is amazing what an extra month of focused instruction will do for student performance. 

This isn’t a sermon where I say, “Shame on you for not sprinting to the finish.”  That would be the easy way out and doesn’t attack the real question, “What does sprinting to the end look like?”

So here are a couple of examples:

1. Loop Teachers.  Instead of taking the first month of school for students and teachers to get to know each other, use the last month.  Have teachers from the next grade teach a week or two at the lower grade.  They can preview up coming content, review pre-requisite material, set expectations and begin to build relationships. 

2. Fact Month.  Every teacher I know complains that students no longer know their facts.  Use May to teach the facts most critical for next year’s content.  Build in a sense of competition with weekly team-based fact bees.

3. Capstone Projects.  Use May for students to work on interdisciplinary and/or capstone projects.  These can be either individual or team projects.  A consistent teacher complaint is that standardized testing has robbed us of the opportunity to connect and extend the curriculum.  What better time to do exactly that, than May?

4. Start Next Year’s Curriculum.  For most schools, the actual curriculum delivery schedule is from the first day of school until the state (or district) summative test.  Then from the day after the test to the end of school, the pace of instruction rapidly ebbs.  The actual curriculum delivery schedule of many high performing schools is quite different.  On these campuses, the first day of instruction of new content begins on the day after the state (or district) summative test and goes full speed until the summative test next school year.

Just remember, May is what campus leadership makes it.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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