As the School Year Winds Down

The school year has six five and a half days left to it. Yesterday, the actual teaching drew to a close so next week, I am either reviewing material for the final or proctoring the final itself.  We’re in the year end rush as we complete grading, begin the end-of-year checklist process, and the classroom is slowly being stripped of decoration.

The students have been less and less able to focus on their material and we’re all experience their misbehavior. We’ve had a run of last minute suspensions along with one of my students being withdrawn with a week to go. Each day ends comparing which class was the least well-behaved. While I understand the anticipation for summer vacation, I do not understand why they think we should stop teaching or they should stop learning. Two were yanked out of my room one morning for getting into an argument with my para-professional. They felt they were being disrespected so they had to write why they felt they deserved respect and their responses were telling: they inarticulately explained they deserved it merely for breathing and all too easily felt disrespect from adult figures.

Earlier this week, I handed out the mandatory summer reading. It has been decided all four grades will read A Hope in the Unseen. This was the decision of both students and faculty and we’ll see if we can create some further school identify with this common reading which will culminate with a day set aside in the fall for all classes to discuss the book. One of my freshmen got the sheet and proclaimed, “Aw, come on! Why do I have to read in the summer?!”

I replied, “You need to read every day of the year. Sometimes because it’s required, sometimes so you know something about the world you live in and sometimes because it will make you happy. You don’t turn your brain off just because it’s summer.” I offered variations of that for my next four classes and didn’t get much push back but his initial reaction truly bothered me.

This week I also had my final meeting with our principal where I read over the form and had nothing to argue with. My scores meant I finished the year in the Effective category with plenty of room for growth and improvement. It was an honest, friendly, but frank conversation. She made it clear the classroom has to be better managed come fall from day one and most of my energies in the days leading up to their return will be focused on just that.

But right now, I am continuing to marvel that a complete school year is winding down. Day by day it felt long, hard, almost interminable. But then I looked up and we’re running out of papers to grade and lessons to plan. These last few days will be all about tidying up loose ends and putting a period to the academic year. This week, just getting through the classes made me feel like a survivor. But I also see just how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned. I hope the kids feel the same way.

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