May: the educator’s most challenging month of the year

May is here and that means most students (and many teachers too) are looking forward to summer break.  Our last day of the regular school year is May 31. I love that we are out before June arrives (well, not me, as I have ten more days to go beyond teacher workdays.)

Earning our paycheck…and break
No matter. It’s still a very tough time of the year to engage students. I frequently tell my colleagues we really earn our paycheck from just a few days during the school year: first day, each day before a long break, and the last few weeks of school. These are the days that really good educators separate themselves from the ones who perhaps made the wrong career choice or need to retire. So how will you fill the remaining days of the school year?

Again I say, those who can engage their students this time of year clearly are jam up teachers and educators. Which brings me to our summer reading kick off.  

Library Engagement
Unfortunately, we will stop circulating books this year on May 14. With 14 more school days, and all books being due May 21, this will be a challenge for those who are readers and USE the library. Oh, of course, we’ll make exceptions for our regulars. We know who they are–know them by name. Last week, on April 30 we had a drop-in catered breakfast for our top circulating students. These are the kids who check-out all year long and support (and probably drive) our reading programs. We had BoJangles biscuits and fellowship around books that morning from 7:30 – 8:20, the bell to begin first block. Each student selected a free book from a stock of probably 100 we had accumulated this year from Atlantis, a paperback subscription service we use. For those who stressed over their free book decision, I admit I let them take more than one. This is about knowing your students and which are really avid readers. And a reader is always extremely happy when rewarded with free books.

Summer Reading 

Ruta Sepetys signing my book at #TXLA13

Our school also promotes summer reading. Our English department annually sends a letter home for summer break reminding students of their upcoming English course “required reading.” While their lists are still under construction, there is always a mix of popular fictions and classics. There are also nonfiction options for the students who are not fans of fiction. This year’s rising tenth graders are being asked to read Ruta Sepetys‘ book Between Shades of Grey in preparation for her visit in September.  We are delighted, as that is one of the books on our South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee list! Each summer we promote the reading of these books. I have  summer reading kick-off contest in place. I need some ideas for how to engage our readers over the summer. Send them my way if you have some.

Let the Summer Reading Begin
Just in case you’re curious, here’s our summer reading kick-off contest.

2013 DHS Summer Reading Kick-off!

DO Judge a Book by its Cover
2013 Summer Reading Kick-off Contest

  • WHO?  Sophomores and Juniors
  • WHEN?  May 13-24, 2013

Summer Prize Pack:

Book of your choice from the DHS summer reading list and a lunch date package valued at $25 (so you and a friend can have lunch and discuss the summer read!)



The library is displaying the nominated Teen Books that are in the running for YALSA’s Teen Top Ten! Before reading any of them, we invite students to come in and literally judge the books by their cover. Enter your votes IN THE LIBRARY. Vote daily!!
  • Do NOT vote for your favorite book
  • Do NOT vote for a book because you like that author.
  • Pretend you’ve read none of these.
  • Vote for the book whose design alone would entice you the most to read the book.
Simple as that! Voting takes place from May 13-24 lunchtime. All students who voted for the title with the most votes go in a drawing, so it’s really important to put your name and DATE on your ballot. Students may vote once a day each day of the contest. The drawing will be done live on the PM Announcements Friday, May 24.
Want to know more about the titles in our contest? Click here to read about them.  The “projeqt” below shows the covers.  Let the “judging” begin.



Found on

Yalsa Top Ten Logo:

Ruta Sepetys: Picture from my own Flickr stream (licensed CC)