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Home Stretch

The Longest Nine Weeks of the School Year


For those who are not in education, the 180 day school year seems pretty mundane. There are 180 days, four quarters (each nine weeks long), and then there are breaks including summer. It’s relatively simple, right? Wrong. Each nine weeks has its ups and downs, but the last nine weeks of the year are the most difficult, in my opinion. Allow me to explain.


Granted, what I am about to tell you is from my point of view as a teacher. I am in the trenches, day in and day out. Given that, others may see things differently. Parents, students, coaches - I’m sure our opinions aren’t exactly the same. And that’s okay. Now, let’s get down to business. The first nine weeks is a time of excitement. Back to school supplies have been purchased, classrooms have been decorated, and the school year is brand new! Teachers may have held “meet the teacher” night or open houses. Schools may have held get-togethers for staff, and families may have discussed the upcoming school year. In early August the fun begins. Students and teachers get to know each other and form relationships. Students may meet new friends. Everyone is trying to settle into their new roles. Time goes rather quickly. Before we know it, it’s time for the second nine weeks.


The second quarter of the school year is when the evenings get cooler. The snuggly hoodies emerge and some Friday nights may be spent under the familiar lights of the football field. Fall break is near - something to look forward to! The newness of school has worn off, but not to the point of feeling sick of school. The calendar inches toward big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means more time off. Okay, most think, this is doable! Then comes the new year.


The third quarter, which runs neck in neck with quarter four as being difficult, is from January to spring break. Don’t get me wrong - this stretch is treacherous! It’s cold, dark, perhaps snowy…those factor into the equation, believe me. It is a rough season when kids are unable to go out and play much. (Yes, I understand they can go out in winter; but, adults know how much work it is to bundle up the kiddos for winter play time.) Finally, after what seems like forever, spring break hits. Here in Indiana it may not be warm, but at least it’s a break. Fleeing to warmer climates seems like a good idea during this quarter! Then, after spring break, time gains speed.


The last nine weeks - the home stretch! It may seem like this would be the easiest quarter of them all. To me, at least, it isn’t. Here is why - teachers, students, staff, and parents are all exhausted. If you’d ask an educator how students are doing, they’d probably tell you something like, “They’re done!”. Senioritis is not just for seniors, let me say! Students and teachers alike seem to be on their last leg in this long race to the finish. Blood, sweat, and tears have been shed. Even though there is light at the end of the tunnel, the finish seems out of reach. After about a week upon returning from spring break, teachers panic. Yes, panic. We wonder about our state standards - how many have we not mastered with the students, which standards do we need to really hit hard as time is running out, which students need extra practice in this area… It’s maddening. The school year clock is running out, and teachers feel the pinch. For some of us, it keeps us awake at night. That, my friends, is no exaggeration! Add to that the fact that the students we see every day or week have become “ours”. We worry about their learning, their lives, their futures. We ask ourselves if we’ve done this right, or that right, or what we missed, or are the kids ready for the next grade? We reflect back on the school year before it is even over. Why? Because we care. We are invested in the students. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t remain in the profession. It’s in our DNA. Down the home stretch is difficult. For me, as a high school teacher, I try to remember that some of my students will be adults soon. Have I, as their teacher, prepared them well? Of course, this doesn’t just pertain to academics; it pertains to “good humans” skills as well.


Yes, we are in the home stretch of the school year. Yes, it is difficult. But, yes, it is all worth it.




About the Content Creator:

Nina Graue hails from southern Indiana where she is a full-time high school English teacher. An Indiana University grad, Nina is passionate about the Hoosiers, reading, writing, traveling, and having fun! Nina has the distinct honor of being an Indiana University School of Education Armstrong Educator Award recipient as well as being named an IU School of Education Teacher-in-Residence.

You can also follow Nina on Instagram- @ilovewords13 or her book club on Facebook - "Beyond Words Book Club". She would love to hear from you!

6 comments

6 Comments


Connie Krieger
Connie Krieger
May 03, 2023

Truer words have never been written! 😊 Thanks for sharing!

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Nina Graue
Nina Graue
May 04, 2023
Replying to

You're so welcome! Thank you for stopping by!

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Deidre Laker
Deidre Laker
May 03, 2023

Truly, it is the hardest part of the year! Soooooo close!


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Nina Graue
Nina Graue
May 04, 2023
Replying to

Summer vibes for sure!

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Georga Cloud
Georga Cloud
May 02, 2023

Nina, your words ring true! I've been reflecting back for weeks now. As a teacher, reading this felt so validating!

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Nina Graue
Nina Graue
May 04, 2023
Replying to

Isn't that what all teachers need - validation? Glad you could relate.

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