The Close of Year 2. The Glorious, Glorious End.
The last week of school, aside from the mind-numbing proctoring (see previous post), was a week that can be summed up by three letters, two of which are the same letter : D. V. and D.
I shouldn’t really divulge too deeply into the truth behind the mysterious final week of the school because, quite frankly, it would be a bit embarrassing.
The school that I work at is a very productive and goal-driven school. The teachers work incredibly hard, and most of the students, many of whom struggle with major problems in school and at home, do improve and master grade level standards. I hope that this fact comes across in my blog (although I have the tendency to exaggerate the uncomfortable or challenging times). At the end of the day, I am proud to be a part of the school.
This sappiness all being said, when our schedule called for teacher’s grades to be in a good week before the end of the year, there ended up being a good deal of potentially painful free time during the last week.
Our options as middle school teachers were as follows:
1) Press students to complete academic work while fighting student anxiousness for the beginning of summer.
2) Show Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Monster’s Inc, Shrek the Third, Tangled, Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon, and even such classics as Jack Black’s Guilliver’s Travels and the new Narnia movies.
The moment the giant DVD binder hit the table in the communal teacher hang out room, the decision had to have weighed heavily over many of us for at least five to ten seconds.
By choosing option one, the students would obviously be thrilled! They would surely be compliant with completing assignments that they knew could not effect their already submitted grades. And there would be no way their anxiousness for summer freedom would turn into frustration or anger toward teachers right?
While many classes I was a part of did a nice job of finishing up their work and completing portfolios of student work, most teachers absolutely choose option two. I knew this because of my incredible detective skills. The first clue was my raided DVD binder I tidied up at end of each school day. I also know most teachers chose DVDs by walking around to a quiet school lit only by the changing shades of blue hue and the sounds of projectors spilling out into the hallways. Most teachers chose movies, but not without caution.
The DVD option usually works for the occasional class period during the year, as a supplement to a unit of study, or to celebrate an academic success. But the major problem would be continued viewing of movies in multiple classes, multiple days in a row. This was a dilemma that most of us were prepared for, and I would say that a few days of watching movies with the students was a very calming way to end of the year.
I remember last year where we had to battle our students until the final bell. While I know that I could have done a better job at bringing my classes to a more complete finish, it was difficult because many of my students are ninth graders, and were finished with school a week before. Like I said before, it was an interesting atmosphere during the final week of school.
My only regret is that we didn’t get to watch Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole – those medieval Owl’s look so wise.
I actually forgot that there were THAT many animated, Pixar, Sony, and Disney movies out there. But sure enough there are, and we showed them all.
On the second to last day of school, the 8th graders were rewarded for their hard work with a trip to the one and only Six Flags Great Adventure (well not really because there are like ten of them).
I cannot say how much of a joy it is to go on a trip with students who are mature enough to behave themselves on a field trip. In addition, because we disallowed a few of the more combative attitudes from going on the trip, we only took those who had the ability to return to a designated spot at the end of the day at a theme park.
Besides a few students who we kept an eye out on, this trip to Six Flags was full of teacher and student fun. Myself, along with a few teacher buddies, overcame some fears to ride on the mighty KingDa Ka.
Sending them off to summer.
Finally, I had to make sure to say my heartfelt goodbyes to many of my students on a staggered basis. Since my high schoolers left earlier, I tried to see them before and after their tests to find out what their summer plans were. As the last few weeks seemingly came out of nowhere, I started to really recognize how much I enjoyed teaching and supporting my ninth graders. Most will be back for next year, and I know that it will be good to be around to help them out again.
As for the eighth graders, handfuls are moving on to new high schools next year, and it was sad to see many of them for the last time. It will be a great experience for many of them, and quite frankly, some need to have a new atmosphere. A few of my most challenging and comical students (who’ve I taught for two years now), will be missed. But in the end, I think that a separation for a while could do us all some good.