Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dust and Deadlines

Bulletin boards are bare.  Book shelves are dusted and reorganized.  Craft supplies are clean and put away.  As I continue to make lists of end-of-the-year tasks and then check them off as my motivation dictates, a few things cross my desk that I try to make note of for next year.  Yes, I know, let's close out this year before working too hard for the next one.  But truthfully, school and my preparations are year long.  And I'm trying to keep tabs on new ways to invigorate myself and my students.  So the folder with "next year's notes" is already pretty full.

Here's a fun website I want to explore more so check it out if you've got some time.  The wake up calls look especially fun!

Back to the sorting and filing...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


They trickle in, one by one, looking as if it's the first day of their senior year rather than their last.  Some are decked out in all their senior garb, flaunting the fact that in two days they will be official graduates of MHS.  Others wander about as if they have no idea where to go - in the building or in their post graduate life.  This is a day that is bittersweet.  And as a teacher, it has been a tough year.  This class, save for about a dozen, is a very jaded group.  Lots of anger, angst, and negativity.  Quick to pass the blame and slow to find motivation.  Regardless, they are on their way to the world beyond our classrooms and some are very ready. 

It is a time for me to reflect, professionally and personally, and take some notes.  There were the lessons and novels that looked great on paper but were awful in real life (no more Things Fall Apart!).  Lots of great class discussions and some that fell on deaf ears and blank faces (1984 anyone??).  The live theater performances we attended were great for those who ventured beyond our small town boundaries.  And connections with particular classes or individual students are always special, though today I realized just what that means.

As the senior pictures and thank you cards cross my desk, I get a bit immune to the tears and sentimentality.  I guess having done this for 12 years, it all begins to look and feel the same.  Just another group of seniors restating the same "I love your class" and "I will miss you" messages that I've heard for over a decade.  Now I don't want to sound callous or ungrateful.  My students are a pretty good bunch of kids and I wish them each the best of luck as they head off into the next phase of their lives (I know, cliche graduation phrase!).  But countless seniors say those things to countless teachers across the state and nation this time of year so it gets a bit generic. Makes me wonder if, as they say, teachers really do touch lives. 

Apparently I did: 
  • One young lady remembered how I offered my slippers to wear during class because her feet were aching in her high heels. 
  • A shy, reserved, nervous young man joined the cast of my drama production and remembered it as one of the best things he's been encouraged to do.  He was also an extra in a recent movie, by the way...
  • Another member of my drama cast reiterated the fabulous friends she made and appreciated the chance to learn some new skills and just cut loose. 
  • My self-motivated independent student helped supervise my freshmen and we shared countless conversations about college courses, moving away from home, and growing up. 
  • Former student/babysitter stopped in to visit just because he missed chatting and catching up (two young children provide lots to share!). 
  • One young man realized I had his bests interests in mind as I strongly encouraged him to go to college up north, but he ultimately chose a local community college with the promise to get out of town in a couple of years. 
  • And several kids mentioned the fact that they appreciated that I "set aside what I am doing" to talk or offer advice. 
So despite the more-than-usual awful days this year, it is nice to think back and know that I did, in fact, make an impression on my kids.  And I hope they'll keep in touch and fill me in on all the fabulous things they on college campuses, in foreign countries, and in industrial cities.  It really was a pretty good year.