When I was younger I had this cat that I just adored. He was so cool. His name was Marbles because of his appearance, but ever since that "fat cat" phase we called him Bubba. Well, Bubba was an outdoor cat with full freedom to roam the neighborhood. In fact, he'd lay in the middle of the street. I remember hearing the neighbors yell "Bubba get out of the road!" as they would slowly drive around him. Well, it was my bright idea, that even though Bubba could walk outside as he pleased, that I should walk him. Yes. I should get a leash with a full harness, strap it all on him, and prance him up and down the sidewalk. The same sidewalk that he already walked, independently.
Well, I don't know if you've ever tried to put a cat on a leash before - but it was wild. Bubba bucked like a ticked off horse, hissed at the slightest touch of the harness. I carried him outside, all harnessed up, and when I put him on the sidewalk it looked as though all of his legs were broken. If a cat could tiptoe - he was definitely showing me how. He stood still for a moment, and then just went berserk - circling around and whipping his paws at the leash. I was sure that he was going to crawl up the thin red fabric between us. It wasn't natural. He wanted free and unharnessed and able to explore ... without the hinderance of my pesky leash.
This is a lot like the last weeks of school. Kids are free and playful and fun, and they can smell summer break like a bear can smell fear. Students have never been so keen to their surroundings as when they can sense the ripeness of the year fresh on their teachers' skin. They can sniff out the moment when their teacher is daydreaming and completely disrupt the rest of the day. So, I spend the last few weeks walking the cat. I try to harness their freedom that they know is SO CLOSE. They start to lose focus and restraint and good sense. So we strap on the harness and place them on the path.
What they don't know is that we're right there with them. We may be trying to keep them restrained for the little while we have left with them, but inside we are playing outside, daydreaming, and losing our own good sense.
Even with the pain of trying to keep them calm, this is my favorite time with the students. We laugh, have fun, and learn all without the pressure of testing. We can do experiments and we have time to explore things we aren't normally able to, due to curriculum restraints. It's a great way to end a year... seeing the students laughing and learning and having a great time. Definitely better than walking the cat.