Monday, June 3, 2013


at 10:38 AM
Summertime is here, and it's still hard to believe. It just seems like a long weekend, still, and that I'll have to go back to work and see my kiddos again soon. It hasn't completely hit me yet that I'm done. I finished my first full year of teaching full-time. And I'm going back next year!

The last week of school was hectic. Correction, the last few weeks of school was hectic. A huge part of this was due to Promotion. In order to promote, students have to get cleared, by getting their teachers to sign an orange card saying they are passing, and they don't have a U in citizenship. Unfortunately, for the 8th graders, this happens two weeks before school is over.

Biggest issue with this? Kids know whether or not they're promoting. And that's the only thing we have to hold over some of them. For the problem kids who don't care, it gets even worse once they realize they aren't promoting. For the borderline kids, it doesn't matter if they're passing or not. Once they know, they stop trying. "Well, I'm already passing, and you can't change it now!" ...except we can, but the grades really don't mean anything at that point, especially once the ceremony and picnic happen. So in a way, they're right.

The other problem with this is that after the teachers sign those cards, we kind of stopped trying, too. Which I realized was a huge mistake, and am already preparing things to do for next year that are fun, but structured. Because middle school students NEED structure.

When every single teacher either shows a movie or lets kids just sign yearbooks, for over a week, kids get antsy. There's no structure. There's no stimulation. They're bored and ready for summer, and don't know why they still have to come.

And then fights happen.

Specifically, on the day of the 8th grade picnic, over half of our ineligible 8th graders were sent home early. The day of promotion (2nd to last day of school) we had THREE fights at lunch.

But not all our kiddos are bad kids. In fact, most of them are wonderful. And I'm going to seriously miss a whole ton.

I debated it, but gave in, when students wanted pictures with me. Two girls in fourth were almost in tears as they gave me hugs at the end of their period, and then the beginning of two periods later. Enough promised to come back and visit. We'll see.

I had a song stuck in my head for over a week, that I thought would be sweet to play for the kids. So I found this video online, and printed out the lyrics for them.

Second period some students were in tears before coming into class.

I gave each class a little speech about how they are wonderful, amazing students who can do wonderful, amazing things with their lives, but only if they make good decisions now (meaning, no more fights!).

Every class had students in tears after the video.

My fifth period claimed I played it on purpose to make them cry. ...Sort of. I decided crying students were less likely to cause fights, and I was pretty spot on.

Talking to other teachers, we realized that many of us gave similar speeches to them on the last day of school.

We also, all, apparently scared the begeezus out of our kiddos the day before. The day of promotion many of the 8th grade teachers warned the kids about the same things. "Doors open at 3 pm, and the principal said you need to be there by 3:30 SHARP. That means if you show up at 3:31, you don't walk." "Wear slacks! Jeans look bad. There are going to be millions of pictures taken, don't be that kid who stands out!" "Girls! If we see your shoulders, you don't walk!" "NO RED AND BLUE."

Our kids were swankified. Not a single student made me want to say, "really?!" Boys wore at least Dickies, or nice pants, and button down shirts. Many wore dress slacks, dress shirts, and vests. The history teacher convinced the popular boys to wear bow ties. Which resulted in a few boys running around looking for someone who knew how to tie a bow tie. Thank God for smart phones. lol.

The girls wore every type of dress from sun dresses to prom dresses. There were so many different, beautiful, and unique dresses that I was amazed. Talking to another teacher my age, we decided that there weren't as many styles of dresses when we were their age as there are now. [...that was a lot of "r" words, and typing that sentence made me stop and double check each word. lol]

In short, they looked lovely. And they [mostly] followed directions. The ceremony went over very well.

Some small wins: One of our speakers usually talks a mile a minute, so I reminded him to speak so slowly it sounded weird to him. He did. It sounded wonderful, and other teacher's commented on it.
A choir student that was formerly my student actually smiled while singing!

Overall, it was an amazing end of the year. I'm sad that I won't see my kids again. But I know that some of them will be back to visit, because I'm staying in the same place. It's a new and weird feeling.

And like I said, it hasn't fully set in that the year is over, yet. But here's to summer!


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