Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Losing my class

With the school year drawing to a close, I'm looking forward to the summer but also feeling a bit sad about saying goodbye to the great batch of students I've had this year. 

Here are some things that I will enjoy remembering:

  • The first couple days of school we did chalkboard challenges to use up the extra minutes at the end of class. Two students would stand at the board with a dry-erase marker ready to turn around and write their answer. The first to write the correct answer would get a point for their team. I said, "Write the abbreviation for the day after Monday." Both students had it wrong. One even wrote,"Fri." We all had a sympathetic laugh, realizing that the pressure of a game situation can short-circuit even the best brain
  • I'd watched Nacho Libre at home and was telling the kids how I love how Nacho does his forward leap with his head back, chest out, and arms out and back. Some students had never seen Nacho Libre. Jackson volunteered to try to demonstrate the leap. It was right on! What talent!
  • Laughing to tears during a spelling test when the topic was chickens and the word was "explosive."
  • Watching the amazing progress of a student who was adopted into a family from Ukraine 2 months before school started. He came in speaking virtually no English and will leave being able to read and write fairly well. (He has over 2,000 reading pages from this quarter alone!) He is truly amazing. And a lively, michevious, lovable kid as well.
  • The way Saif's eyes crinkle and almost disappear when he smiles or laughs.
  • The enthuiastic way Jacob Jensen has of writing on the board in chalkboard challenges. He gets his whole body into it!
  • Pablo and teasing him about hair gel. He's a good sport. Especially when he and I decided to pull one on the class and pretend that I caught him cheating. You could have heard a pin drop when I ripped up his paper and told him to wait for me in the hall. Even though the door was closed, I'm pretty sure the class heard me hit a locker and say, "What were you thinking?!" Pablo and I came in after a minute. Everyone looked stricken. Pablo and I couldn't help but laugh. Boy was the class relieved!
  • Going to start the tape to go along with the class novel and having the radio come on. Me dancing along for a while as a nerdy adult. The kids were floored that I'd do it. And, yeah, they laughed. It was a great way to accidentally start the class.
  • Having Parker come up and ask me if I'd broken the wind in class the day before. I was taken aback. Was he really asking what I thought he was asking? After seeing the confusion on my face, he said, "You know -- Mr. Donohoe's yard stick?" Oh yeah. I'd forgotten that Mr. Donohoe called his yard stick "The Wind." I share a class with him, and I had actually made a tiny sliver come off the day before. (I couldn't help but tell Parker what I thought he was asking. We shared it with the rest of the class who, predictably, made "break-the-wind" jokes for weeks afterwards.)
  • Making the kids take a rubber chicken as the hall pass when they use the bathroom. (I disinfect it with Lysol spray at least twice a week.) Having Kjia return once with a slightly wet chicken. She claims it fell in the sink. I can only hope so.
  • Playing the quiz game, "Squeeze that Chicken!" The first one to squeeze their squeaky chicken and say the right answer gets a point for their team. (Who says rubber chickens can't be educational?)
  • Reading the students' fast fiction stories and having the class try to guess which one I wrote. I was constantly amazed at the creativity of my students. Students who were only so-so about writing came up with papers that beat my own attempt at fiction.
  • Sharing the ups and downs of student behavior with my husband and then noticing how I always end a rant with the words, "but I still like him/her." I've been pleasantly surprised to find that the students who have the hardest time sitting still or not talking out are every bit as lovable as the others.
Alas, I'm out of time. Can you tell I've loved my first year of teaching? I'm having a hard time believing that next years classes will be able to measure up to the joy and insights this year's students have given me.

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