The First Semester Draws to a Close

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I will give my freshmen credit for getting into the spirit during our costume days.

The first semester officially has closed. The mid-terms are graded and posted and the focus is on the second half of the school year.

My four sections of freshmen arrived after a year and a half at home, effectively transitioning from seventh grade to ninth grade, entering high school somewhat unprepared for the expectations. They were quiet and uncertain at first, but with every passing week, they found their footing, gained confidence, and joined the Pallotti family with gusto.

One iteration of the complaint board.

The upperclassmen took great joy in writing complaints about them on my whiteboard while the freshmen had some choice rebuttals of their own.

When it came to Class Competitions, they had surprisingly strong showings, in the hunt for the coveted trophy. We’ve tried to plan some freshmen-only events but Delta and Omicron have caused various delays so we’ll try again in February.

Academically, they have struggled, even the brightest of the bunch. They lack the study skills, clearly having taken few, if any, notes in the last 18 months. A precious few took notes during the semester and as we reviewed for mid-terms it was clear the majority had nothing to study.

Their writing, as I was warned, is weak and I am carving out time for more writing assignments to get them back on track. The bright spots among the freshmen, burn brightly, though.

I’ve bonded well with more than a few of them while others arrive, sit, do the work, and leave. I haven’t managed to make any personal connections with a handful which is frustrating.

My beloved juniors.

My juniors, on the other hand, are disappointed in how much their skills have atrophied in the last year. Lessons I taught them in ninth grade are vanished memories to them, concepts taught are now being retaught along with the new material. Their critical thinking isn’t what it should be and their class discussions won’t go to the depths I want.

I’ve been recalibrating lessons as I plan for the next units, hoping to get everyone back on track as readers, writers, and thinkers. And, hard as it is to believe in January, discussion for the 2022-23 school year curriculum have been going on since the fall and I await some decisions that could make me very happy.

I can teach with a mask, a small price to pay to have my classroom full of students. I can walk the room, answering questions, teasing, or observing. I continue to walk in energized, ready to work with the 100+ children in my charge, and am hoping for a more successful second half.

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