Feeling Appreciated

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I am not sure who created Teacher Appreciation Week, but I sure like the timing of it. By having it the first week of May, it reminds the administration and parents of the role we play. At this point, we’re all getting tired, certainly worried about the students who are definitely not passing the year, and keeping everyone engaged as the countdown to the end of the academic year looms.

Last week we were fed by grateful individual parents and the Parents Guild. I actually received several Amazon gift cards from appreciative students and an email from another. What really surprised me were the testimonials the administration collected from students about the faculty, which were turned into social media posts. One of the ones seen here is from a student I thought I was constantly butting heads with and criticizing but instead, he saw things very differently.

Our school year ends June 3, and the period between Spring Break and Finals can be a grind for all concerned. We’re tired of lesson planning and grading, tired of the excuses for late work, and sometimes lose sight of how tired the students are, too.

For a good percentage of my freshmen, this has not been a great year. Some never took to being online only and failed to thrive while others had social/emotional issues that made the high school transition (in class or online) challenging. They’re ready to give up entirely, knowing credit recovery over the summer is a given.

When I decided to end the year with a Media Literacy unit, I never imagined it would actually fire up my freshmen. They are happy and engaged as we have lively conversations about scenarios and connecting these lessons to their lives.

My honors freshmen are helping me pilot a 12-part unit at Parlay, reading/watching materials, and having online debates with one another about the issues. It’s getting them to exercise their critical thinking and writing skills and it forces even my reluctant speakers to engage.

The juniors remain reluctant to speak online and with only three students at most in the class on any given day, this is disappointing. I feel we’re both being shortchanged as I suspect we’d have livelier classes in person. As it is, the weighty and fascinating issues raised in 1984 get them thinking—just not talking.

One recently started coming in and has blossomed, convincing me this was a missed opportunity.

Thankfully, we’ve jiggered the finals to limit the ones being assigned and English was spared. We’re giving them formal essays to write before the quarter ends and I have my prompts ready to roll out. It means I can ease into final grading and closing out the year.

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